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s?'''baring-gould, m.a. 





\_New Edition.'\ 











t IX. THE MAN IN THE MOON . . . . IpO 









X Co7itents. 


XIX. MELUSINA . . 471 













'XT 7" HO that has looked on Gustave Dores 
* marvellous illustrations to this wild legend, 
can forget the impression they made upon his 
imagination ? 

I do not refer to the first illustration as striking, 
where the Jewish shoemaker is refusing to suffer the 
cross-laden Saviour to rest a moment on his door- 
step, and is receiving with scornful lip the judg- 
ment to wander restless till the Second Coming of 
that same Redeemer. But I refer rather to the 
second, which represents the Jew, after the lapse of 
ages, bowed beneath the burden of the curse, worn 
with unrelieved toil, wearied with ceaseless travel- 
ling, trudging onward at the last lights of evening, 
when a rayless night of unabating rain is creeping 


The Wandering yew 

on, along a sloppy path between dripping bushes ; 
and suddenly he comes over against a way-side 
crucifix, on which the white glare of departing day- 
light falls, to throw it into ghastly relief against t 
pitch-black rain clouds. For a moment we see i 
working of the miserable shoemaker's mind, 
feel that he is recalling the tragedy of the fir 
Good Friday, and his head hangs heavier on h 
breast, as he recalls the part he had taken in th 
awful catastrophe. 

Or, is that other illustration more remarkable? 
where the wanderer is amongst the Alps, at th 
brink of a hideous chasm ; and seeing in the co: 
torted pine-branches the ever-haunting scene 
the Via dolorosa, he is lured to cast himself into' 
that black gulf in quest of rest,— when an angel 
flashes out of the gloom with the sword of flame 
turning every way, keeping him back from wh 
would be to him a Paradise indeed, the repose 
Death } 

Or that last scene, when the trumpet sounds 
and earth is shivering to its foundations, the fire 
is bubbling forth through the rents in its surface, 
and the dead are coming together flesh to flesh, 
and bone to bone, and muscle to muscle — then 
the weary man sits down and casts off his shoes ! 







The Wandering Jeiv d 

Strange sights are around him, he sees them not ; 
strange sounds assail his ears, he hears but one — 
the trumpet-note which gives the signal for him to 
stay his wanderings and rest his weary feet. 

It is possible to linger over those noble woodcuts, 
and learn from them something new each time that 
we study them ; they are picture-poems full of 
latent depths of thought. And now let us to the 
history of this most thrilling of all Mediaeval 

The words of the Gospel contain the germs out 
of which the story has developed. " Verily I say 
unto you, There be some standing here, which shall 
not taste of death till they see the Son of Man 
coming in His kingdom V' are our Lord's words, 
which I can hardly think apply to the destruction 
of Jerusalem, as commentators explain it to escape 
the difficulty. That some should live to see Jeru- 
salem destroyed was not very surprising, and 
hardly needed the emphatic Verily which Christ 
only used when speaking something of peculiarly 
solemn or mysterious import. 

Besides, S. Luke's account manifestly refers the 
coming in the kingdom to the Judgment, for the 

* Matt. xvi. 28. Mark i::. i. 
B 1 

4 The Wandering Jew 

saying stands as follows : " Whosoever shall bi 
ashamed of Me, and of My words, of him shall th^ 
Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come ii 
His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the hoi] 
angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some 
standing here, which shall not taste of death til| 
they see the kingdom of God \" 

There can, I think, be no doubt in the mind of 
an unprejudiced person, that the words of our Lord 
do imply that some one or more of those then 
living should not die till He came again. I do not 
mean to insist ''on the literal signification, but I 
plead that it is compatible with our Lord's power 
to have fulfilled His words to the letter. That the 
circumstance is unrecorded in the Gospels is no 
evidence that it did not take place, for we are 
expressly told, " Many other signs truly did Jesus 
in the presence of His disciples, which are not 
written in this book^;" and again, "There are also 
many other things which Jesus did, the which, if 
they should be written every one, I suppose that 
even the world itself could not contain the books 
that should be written ^" 

We may remember also that mysterious wit- 

' Luke ix. 26, 27. 

2 John XX. 30. ■• John xxi. 25. 

The Wandering Jew 5 

nesses are to appear in the last eventful days of 
the world's history, and bear testimony to the 
Gospel truth before the antichristian world. One 
of these has been often conjectured to be S. John 
the Evangelist, of whom Christ said to Peter, " If I 
will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" 
and the other has been variously conjectured to be 
Elias, or Enoch, or our Jew. 

The historical evidence on which the tale rests 
is, however, too slender, for us to admit for it more 
than the barest claim to be more than myth. The 
names and the circumstances connected with the 
Jew and his doom vary in every account, and the 
only point upon which all coincide is that such an 
individual exists in an undying condition, wander- 
ing over the face of the earth, seeking rest and 
finding none. 

The earliest extant mention of the Wandering 
Jew, is to be found in the book of the chronicles of 
the Abbey of S. Albans, which was copied and 
continued by Matthew Paris. He records that in 
the year 1228, "a certain Archbishop of Armenia 
Major came on a pilgrimage to England to see 
the relics of the saints, and visit the sacred places 
in the kingdom, as he had done in others ; he 
also produced letters of recommendation from 

6 The Wanderi7tg Jew 

his Holiness the Pope, to the religious men and 
prelates of the churches, in which they were en- 
joined to receive and entertain him with due rever- 
ence and honour. On his arrival, he went to S. 
Albans, where he was received with all respect by 
the abbot and monks; at this place, being fatigued 
with his journey, he remained some days to rest 
himself and his followers, and a conversation was 
commenced between him and the inhabitants of 
the convent, by means of their interpreters, during 
which he made many inquiries concerning the 
religion and religious observances of this country, 
and related many strange things concerning Eastern 
countries. In the course of conversation he was 
asked whether he had ever seen or heard any 
thing of Joseph, a man of whom there was much 
talk in the world, who, when our Lord suffered, 
was piesent and spoke to Him, and who is still 
alive, in evidence of the Christian faith ; in reply 
to which, a knight in his retinue, who was his 
interpreter, replied, speaking in French, * My lord 
well knows that man, and a little before he took 
his way to the western countries, the said Joseph 
ate at the table of my lord the Archbishop in 
Armenia, and he had often seen and held converse 
with him.' He was then asked about what had 

The Wandering Jew 7 

passed between Christ and the same Joseph, to 
which he replied, *At the time of the suffering of 
Jesus Christ, He was seized by the Jews, and led 
into the hall of judgment before Pilate, the gover- 
nor, that He might be judged by him on the 
accusation of the Jews ; and Pilate, finding no 
cause for adjudging Him to death, said to them, 
'Take Him and judge Him according to your 
law;* the shouts of the Jews, however, increasing, 
he, at their request, released unto them Barabbas, 
and delivered Jesus to them to be crucified. When, 
therefore, the Jews were dragging Jesus forth, and 
had reached the door, Cartaphilus, a porter of the 
hall, in Pilate's service, as Jesus was going out of 
the door, impiously struck Him on the back with 
his hand, and said in mockery, * Go quicker, Jesus, 
go quicker; why do you loiter?' and Jesus, looking 
back on him with a severe countenance, said to 
him, * I am going, and you will wait till I return.' 
And according as our Lord said, this Cartaphilus 
is still awaiting His return. At the time of our 
Lord's suffering he was thirty years old, and when 
he attains the age of a hundred years, he always 
returns to the same age as he was when our Lord 
suffered. After Christ's death, when the Catholic 
faith gained ground, this Cartaphilus was baptized 

8 The Wandering Jew 

by Ananias (who also baptized the Apostle Paul), 
and was called Joseph. He often dwells in both 
divisions of Armenia, and other Eastern coun- 
tries, passing his time amidst the bishops and 
other prelates of the Church ; he is a man of holy 
conversation, and religious ; a man of few words, 
and circumspect in his behaviour ; for he does 
not speak at all unless when questioned by th( 
bishops and religious men ; and then he tells of tl 
events of old times, and of the events which occurred 
at the suffering and resurrection of our Lord, ai 
of the witnesses of the resurrection, namely, thoj 
who rose with Christ, and went into the holy cit] 
and appeared unto men. He also tells of the cree 
of the Apostles, and of their separation ai 
preaching. And all this he relates without smilii 
or levity of conversation, as one who is well pra^ 
tised in sorrow and the fear of God, always lookii 
forward with fear to the coming of Jesus Chrij 
lest at the Last Judgment he should find Him 
anger whom, when on His way to death, he h* 
provoked to just vengeance. Numbers came 
him from different parts of the world, enjoying 
society and conversation ; and to them, if they ai 
men of authority, he explains all doubts on tl 
matters on which he is questioned. He refuses 

The Wandering Jeiv 9 

gifts that are offered to him, being content with 
slight food and clothing. He places his hope of 
salvation on the fact that he sinned through igno- 
rance, for the Lord when suffering prayed for His 
enemies in these words, * Father, forgive them, for 
they know not what they do.' " 

Much about the same date Philip Mouskes, 
afterwards Bishop of Tournay, wrote his rhymed 
chronicle (i 242)' which contains a similar account of 
the Jew, derived from the same Armenian prelate : — 

" Adonques vint un arceveskes 
De 9a mer, plains de bonnes teques 
Par samblant, et fut d'Armenie," 

and this man having visited the shrine of " St. 
Tumas de Kantorbire," and then having paid his 
devotions at " Monsigour St. Jake," he went on to 
Cologne to see the heads of the three kings. The 
version told in the Netherlands much resembled 
that related at S. Albans, only that the Jew, 
seeing the people dragging Christ to His death, 
exclaims : 

" Atendes moi ! ^\ vois, 
S'iert mis le faus profete en crois." 


" Le vrais Uieux se regarda, 
Et li a dit qu'e n'i tarda, 
Icist ne t'atenderont pas, 
Mais saces, tu m'atenderao.' 

10 The Wandering Jew 

We hear no more of the Wandering Jew till the 
sixteenth century, when we hear first of him in a 
casual manner, as assisting a weaver, Kokot, at the 
royal palace in Bohemia (1505), to find a treasure 
which had been secreted by the great-grandfather 
cf Kokot, sixty years before, at which time the Jew 
was present. He then had the appearance of being 
a man of seventy years ^ 

Curiously enough, we next hear of him in the 
East, where he is confounded with the prophet 
Elijah. Early in the century he appeared to 
Fadhilah, under peculiar circumstances. 

After the Arabs had captured the city of Elvan, 
Fadhilah, at the head of three hundred horsemen, 
pitched his tents, late in the evening, between two 
mountains. Fadhilah having begun his evening 
prayer with a loud voice, heard the words " Allah 
akbar " (God is great) repeated distinctly, and each 
word of his prayer was followed in a similar 
manner. Fadhilah not believing this to be the 
result of an echo, was much astonished, and cried 
out, " O thou ! whether thou art of the angel ranks, 
or whether thou art of some other order of spirits, it 
is well, the power of God be with thee ; but if thou 

* Gubitz, Gesellsch. 1845, No. 18 

The Wandering Jew 11 

art a man, then let mine eyes light upon thee, 
that I may rejoice in thy presence and society." 
Scarcely had he spoken these words, before an 
aged man with bald head stood before him, hold- 
ing a staff in his hand, and much resembling a 
dervish in appearance. After having courteously 
saluted him, Fadhilah asked the old man who he 
was. Thereupon the stranger answered, "Bassi 
Hadhret Issa, I am here by command of the Lord 
Jesus, who has left me in this world, that I may 
live therein until He comes a second time to earth. 
I wait for this Lord who is the Fountain of 
Happiness, and in obedience to His command I 
dwell behind yon mountain." When Fadhilah 
heard these words, he asked when the Lord Jesus 
would appear, and the old man replied that His 
appearing would be at the end of the world, at the 
Last Judgment. But this only increased Fadhilah's 
curiosity, so that he inquired the signs of the 
approach of the end of all things, whereupon Zerib 
Bar Elia gave him an account of general, social, 
and moral dissolution, which would be the climax 
of this world's history ^ 

In 1547 he was seen in Europe, if we are to 
believe the following narration : — 

* Herbelot, Bibl. Orient, iii. p. 607. 

12 The Wandering Jew 

" Paul von Eitzen, doctor of the Holy Scriptures, 
and Bishop of Schleswig ', related as true for some 
years past, that when he was young, having studied 
at Wittemberg, he returned home to his parents in 
Hamburg in the winter of the year 1547, and that 
on the following Sunday, in church, he observed a 
tall man with his hair hanging over his shoulders, 
standing barefoot during the sermon, over against 
the pulpit, listening with deepest attention to the 
discourse, and, whenever the name of Jesus was 
mentioned, bowing himself profoundly and humbly^j 
with sighs and beating of the breast. He had n( 
other clothing in the bitter cold of the winterj 
except a pair of hose which were in tatters about 
his feet, and a coat with a girdle which reached t( 
his feet ; and his general appearance was that of 
a man of fifty years. And many people, some of 
high degree and title, have seen this same man in 
England, France, Italy, Hungary, Persia, Spain, 
Poland, Moscow, Lapland, Sweden, Denmark, 
Scotland, and other places. 

" Every one wondered over the man. Now after 

7 Paul V. Eitzen was bom Jan. 25th, 1522, at Hamburg ; 
in 1562 he was appointed chief preacher for Schleswig, and 
died Feb. 25th, 1598. (Greve, Memor. P. ab. Eitzen. 
Hamb. 1744.) 

The Wanderiftg Jew 13 

the sermon, the said Doctor inquired diligently 
where the stranger was to be found, and when he 
had sought him out, he inquired of him privately 
whence he came, and how long that winter he had 
been in the place. Thereupon he replied modestly, 
that he was a Jew by birth, a native of Jerusalem, 
by name Ahasverus, by trade a shoemaker ; he had 
been present at the crucifixion of Christ, and had 
lived ever since, travelling through various lands 
and cities, the which he substantiated by accounts 
he gave ; he related also the circumstances of 
Christ's transference from Pilate to Herod, and the 
final crucifixion, together with other details not 
recorded in the Evangelists and historians ; he gave 
accounts of the changes of government in many 
countries, especially of the East, through several 
centuries, and moreover he detailed the labours and 
deaths of the holy Apostles of Christ most cir- 

" Now when Doctor Paul v. Eitzen heard this 
with profound astonishment, on account of its 
incredible novelty, he inquired further, in order 
that he might obtain more accurate information. 
Then the man answered, that he had lived in 
Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion of Christ, 
whom he had regarded as a deceiver of the people 

14 The Wandering Jew 

and a heretic ; he had seen Him with his own eyes, 
and had done his best, along with others, to bring 
this deceiver, as he regarded Him, to justice, and to 
have Him put out of the way. When the sentence 
had been pronounced by Pilate, Christ was about 
to be dragged past his house ; then he ran home, 
and called together his household to have a look at 
Christ, and see what sort of a person He was. 

" This having been done, he had his little child 
on his arm, and was standing in his doorway t 
have a sight of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

" As, then, Christ was led by, bowed under the 
weight of the heavy cross. He tried to rest a little, 
and stood still a moment ; but the shoemaker, in 
zeal and rage, and for the sake of obtaining credit; 
among the other Jews, drove the Lord Christ for- 
ward, and told Him to hasten on His way. Jesus 
obeying, looked at him, and said, * I shall stan 
and rest, but thou shalt go till the last day.' At, 
these words the man set down the child ; and 
unable to remain where he was, he followed Christ, 
and saw how cruelly He was crucified, how H 
suffered, how He died. As soon as this had 
taken place, it came upon him suddenly that hi 
could no more return to Jerusalem, nor see again 
his wife and child, but must go forth into foreign 


The Wandering Jew ] 5 

lands, one after another, like a mournful pilgrim. 
Now, when, years after, he returned to Jerusalem, 
he found it ruined and utterly razed, so that not 
one stone was left standing on another ; and he 
could not recognize former localities. 

" He believes that it is God's purpose in thus 
driving him about in miserable life, and preserving 
him undying, to present him before the Jews at the 
end, as a living token, so that the godless and un- 
believing may remember the death of Christ, and 
be turned to repentance. For his part he would 
well rejoice were God in heaven to release him from 
this vale of tears. After this conversation. Doctor 
Paul V. Eitzen, along with the rector of the school 
of Hamburg, who was well read in history, and a 
traveller, questioned him about events which had 
taken place in the East since the death of Christ, 
and he was able to give them much information on 
many ancient matters; so that it was impossible not 
to be convinced of the truth of his story, and to see 
that what seems impossible with men is, after all, 
possible with God. 

" Since the Jew has had his life extended, he has 
become silent and reserved, and only answers direct 
questions. When invited to become any one's 
guest, he eats little, and drinks in great moderation; 

16 The Wandering Jew 

then hurries on, never remaining long in one place. 
When at Hamburg, Dantzig, and elsewhere money 
has been offered him, he never took more than 
two skillings (45^.), and at once distributed it to 
the poor, as token that he needed no money, for 
God would provide for him, as he rued the sins 
he had committed in ignorance. 

" During the period of his stay in Hamburg and 
Dantzig he was never seen to laugh. In whatever 
land he travelled he spoke its language, and when 
he spoke Saxon, it was like a native Saxon. Many 
people came from different places to Hamburg and 
Dantzig in order to see and hear this man, and 
were convinced that the providence of God was 
exercised in this individual in a very remarkable 
manner. He gladly listened to God's word, or 
heard it spoken of always with great gravity and 
compunction, and he ever reverenced with sighs the 
pronunciation of the name of God, or of Jesus 
Christ, and could not endure to hear curses, but 
whenever he heard any one swear by God's death 
or pains, he waxed indignant, and exclaimed, with 
vehemence and with sighs, — 'Wretched man and 
miserable creature, thus to misuse the name of 
thy Lord and God, and His bitter sufferings and 
passion. Hadst thou seen, as I have, how heavy 

Ike Wandering Jew 17 

and bitter were the pangs and wounds of thy Lord, 
endured for thee and for me, thou wouldest rather 
undergo great pain thyself than thus take His 
sacred name in vain !' 

" Such is the account given to me by Doctor Paul 
von Eitzen, with many circumstantial proofs, and 
corroborated by certain of my own old acquaint- 
ances who saw this same individual with their own 
eyes in Hamburg. 

"In the year 1575, the Secretary Christopher 
Krause, and Master Jacob von Holstein, legates to 
the Court of Spain, and afterwards sent into the 
Netherlands to pay the soldiers serving his Majesty 
in that country, related on their return home to 
Schleswig, and confirmed with solemn oaths, that 
they had come across the same mysterious indi- 
vidual at Madrid in Spain, in appearance, manner 
of life, habits, clothing, just the same as he had 
appeared in Hamburg. They said that they had 
spoken with him, and that many people of all 
classes had conversed with him, and found him to 
speak good Spanish. In the year 1599, in Decem- 
ber, a reliable person wrote from Brunswick to 
Strasburg that the same mentioned strange person 
had been seen alive at Vienna in Austria, and that 
he had started for Poland and Dantzig; and that he 


18 The Wandering Jew 

purposed going on to Moscow. This Ahasve 
was at Lubeck in 1601, also about the same date 
Revel in Livonia, and in Cracow in Poland. 
Moscow he was seen of many and spoken to 

"What thoughtful God-fearing persons are 
think of the said person, is at their option. God's 
works are wondrous and past finding out, and are 
manifested day by day, only to be revealed in full 
at the last great day of account. 

"Dated, Revel, August ist, 161 3 
" D. W. 

*• Chrysostomus Duduloeus, 

The statement that the Wandering Jew appeared 
in Lubeck in 1601, does not tally with the more 
precise chronicle of Henricus Bangert, which gives : 
— " Die 14 Januarii Anno MDCIIL, adnotatum reli- 
quit Lubecae fuisse Judaeum ilium immortalem, qui 
se Christi crucifixioni interfuisse affirmavit ^" 

In 1604, he seems to have appeared in Paris. 
Rudolph Botoreus says under this date: "I fear 

* Henr. Bangert, Comment, de Ortu, Vita, et Excessu 




.re I 


The Wandering Jew 19 

lest I be accused of giving ear to old wives* fables, 
if I insert in these pages what is reported all over 
Europe of the Jew, coeval with the Saviour Christ ; 
however, nothing is more common, and our popular 
histories have not scrupled to assert it. Following 
the lead of those who wrote our annals, I may say- 
that he who appeared not in one century only, in 
Spain, Italy, and Germany, was also in this year 
seen and recognized as the same individual who 
had appeared in Hamburg, anno MDLXVI. The 
common people, bold in spreading reports, relate 
many things of him ; and this I allude to, lest any 
thing should be left unsaid '." 

J. C. Bulenger puts the date of the Hamburg 
visit earlier. " It was reported at this time that a 
Jew of the time of Christ was wandering without 
food and drink, having for a thousand and odd years 
been a vagabond and outcast, condemned by God 
to rove, because he, of that generation of vipers, 
was the first to cry out for the crucifixion of Christ 
and the release of Barabbas ; and also because 
soon after, when Christ, panting under the burden 
of the rood, sought to rest before his workshop (he 
was a cobbler), the fellow ordered Him off with 

» R". Botoreus, Comm. Histor. lii. p. 305. 
C 2 

20 The Wander mg Jew 

acerbity. Thereupon Christ replied : * Becai 
thou grudgest Me such a moment of rest, I shj 
enter into My rest, but thou shalt wander restles 
At once frantic and agitated he fled through 
whole earth, and on the same account to this daj 
he journeys through the world. It was this perse 
who was seen in Hamburg in MDLXIV. Credj 
Judseus Apella ! / did not see him or hear ai 
thing authentic concerning him at that time whe 
I was in Paris \" 

A curious little book' written against the quackery 
of Paracelsus, by Leonard Doldius, a Niirnberg 
physician, and translated into Latin and augmented 
by Andreas Libavius, doctor and physician of 
Rotenburg, alludes to the same story, and gives 
the Jew a new name nowhere else met with. 
After having referred to a report that Paracelsus 
was not dead, but was seated alive, asleep or 
napping, in his sepulchre at Strasburg, preserved 
from death by some of his specifics, Libavius 
declares that he would sooner believe in the old 
man the Jew, Ahasverus, wandering over the world, 
called by some Buttadaeus, and otherwise, again, by 

^ J. C. Bulenger, Historia sui Temporis, p. 357. 
' Praxis Alchymias. Francfurti, MDCIV. 8vo. 

The Wandering Jew 21 

He is said to have appeared in Naumburg, but 
the date is not given ; he was noticed in church, 
listening to the sermon. After the service he was 
questioned, and he related his story. On this 
occasion he received presents from the burghers ^. 
In 1633 he was again in Hamburg*. Tn the year 
1640, two citizens, living in the Gerberstrasse, in 
Brussels, were walking in the Sonian wood, when 
they encountered an aged man, whose clothes were 
in tatters and of an antiquated appearance. They 
invited him to go with them to a house of refresh- 
ment, and he went with them, but would not seat 
himself, remaining on foot to drink. When he 
came before the doors with the two burghers, he 
told them a great deal, but they were mostly stories 
of events which had happened many hundred years 
before. Hence the burghers gathered that their 
companion was Isaac Laquedem, the Jew who had 
refused to permit our Blessed Lord to rest for a 
moment at his doorstep, and they left him full of 
terror. In 1641^, he is reported to have visited 
Leipzig. According to Peck's " History of Stam- 
ford," Upon Whitsunday, in the year of our Lord 
1658, "about six of the clock, just after evensong." 

^ Mitternacht, Diss, in Johann. xxi. 19. 
^ Mitternacht, ut supra. 

22 The Wandering Jew 

one ■ Samuel Wallis, of Stamford, who had been 
long wasted with a lingering consumption, was 
sitting by the fire, reading in that delectable boo! 
called "Abraham's Suit for Sodom." He heard 
knock at the door ; and, as his nurse was abse 
he crawled to open it himself. What he saw then 
Samuel shall say in his own style : — " I beheld 
proper, tall, grave old man. Thus he said : ' Frien^ 
I pray thee, give an old pilgrim a cup of sm 
beere !' And I said, *Sir, I pray you, come in a 
welcome.' And he said, * I am no Sir, therefor 
call me not Sir ; but come in I must, for I canni 
pass by thy doore.' 

" After finishing the beer : * Friend,' he sai 
* thou art not well.' I said, * No, truly Sir, I have 
not been well this many yeares.' He said, * What 
is thy disease.?' I said, *A deep consumption. 
Sir ; our doctors say, past cure : for, truly, I am a 
very poor man, and not able to follow doctors' 
councell.' ' Then,' said he, * I will tell thee what 
thou shalt do ; and, by the help and power of 
Almighty God above, thou shalt be well. To- 
morrow, when thou risest up, go into thy garden, 
and get there two leaves of red sage, and one of 
bloodworte, and put them into a cup of thy small 
beere. Drink as often as need require, and when 

re « 

The Wandering Jew 23 

the cup is empty fill it again, and put in fresh 
leaves every fourth day, and thou shalt see, through 
our Lord's great goodness and mercy, before twelve 
days shall be past, thy disease shall be cured and 
thy body altered.'" 

After this simple prescription, Wallis pressed 
him to eat : " But he said, * No, friend, I will not 
eat ; the Lord Jesus is sufficient for me. Very 
seldom doe I drinke any beere neither, but that 
which comes from the rocke. ' So, friend, the Lord 
God be with thee.'" 

So saying, he departed, and was never more 
heard of; but the patient got well within the 
given time, and for many a long day there was 
war hot and fierce among the divines of Stamford, 
as to whether the stranger was an angel or a devil. 
His dress has been minutely described by honest 
Sam. His coat was purple, and buttoned down 
to the waist ; " his britches of the same couler, all 
new^ to see to ;" his stockings were very white, 
but whether linen or jersey, deponent knoweth 
not ; his beard and head were white, and he had 
a white stick in his hand. The day was rainy 
from morning to night, "but he had not one spot 
of dirt upon his cloathes." 

Aubrey gives an almost exactly similar relation. 

24 The Wa7tdering Jew 

the scene of which he places in the Staffordshii 
Moorlands. He there appears in a " purple shj 
gown," and prescribes balm-leaves ^ 

On the 22nd July, 1721, he appeared at the gat( 
of the city of Munich ^ About the end of tl 
seventeenth century, or the beginning of th^ 
eighteenth, an impostor calling himself tm 
Wandering Jew, attracted attention in England' 
and was listened to by the ignorant, and despisec 
by the educated. H^ however managed to thruj 
himself into the notice of the nobility, who, half ii 
jest, half in curiosity, questioned him, and paid hii 
as they might a juggler. He declared that he ha( 
been an officer of the Sanhedrim, and that he had 
struck Christ as He left the judgment-hall of Pilate. 
He remembered all the Apostles, and described 
their personal appearance, their clothes, and their 
peculiarities. He spoke many languages, claimed 
the power of healing the sick, and asserted that he 
had travelled nearly all over the world. Those who 
heard him were perplexed by his familiarity with 
foreign tongues and places. Oxford and Cambridge 
sent professors to question him, and to discover the 

* Notes and Queries, vol. xii. No. 322. 
" Hormayr, Taschenbuch, 1834, p. 216. 

The Wandering Jew 25 

imposition, if any. An English nooleman con- 
versed with him in Arabic. The mysterious 
stranger told his questioner in that language that 
historical works were not to be relied upon. And 
on being asked his opinion of Mahomet, he replied 
that he had been acquainted with the father of the 
prophet, and that he dwelt at Ormuz. As for 
Mahomet, he believed him to have been a man of 
intelligence ; once when he -heard the prophet deny 
that Christ was crucified, he answered abruptly by 
telling him he was a witness to the truth of 
that event. He related also that he was in 
Rome when Nero set it on fire ; he had 
known Saladin, Tamerlane, Bajazeth, Eterlane, 
and could give minute details of the history of 
the Crusades ^ 

Whether this Wandering Jew was found out in 
London or not, we cannot tell, but he shortly after 
appeared in Denmark, thence travelled into Sweden, 
and vanished. 

Some impostors assuming to be the mysterious 
Jew, or lunatics actually believing themselves 
to be him, appeared in England in 1818, 1824, 


7 Calmet, Dictionn. de la Bible, t. ii. p. 473. 
^ Athenaeum, Nov. 3, 1866, p. 561. 

26 The Wandering Jew 

Such are the principal notices of the Wandering 
Jew which have appeared. It will be seen at once 
how wanting they are in all substantial evidence 
which could make us regard the story in any other 
light than myth. 

But no myth is wholly without foundation, and 
there must be some substantial verity upon which 
this vast superstructure of legend has been raised. 
What that is I am unable to discover. 

It has been suggested by some that the Jew 
Ahasverus is an impersonification of that race 
which wanders, Cain-like, over the earth with the 
brand of a brother's blood upon it, and one which 
is not to pass away till all be fulfilled, not to be 
reconciled to its angered God, till the times of the 
Gentiles are accomplished. And yet, probable as 
this supposition may seem at first sight, it is not 
to be harmonized with some of the leading features 
of the story. The shoemaker becomes a penitent, 
and earnest Christian, whilst the Jewish nation has 
still the veil upon its heart ; the wretched wanderer 
eschews money, and the avarice of the Israelite is 

According to local legend, he is identified with 
the Gipsies, or rather that strange people are sup- 
posed to be living under a curse somewhat similar 

The Wandering Jew 27 

to that inflicted on Ahasverus, because they refused 
shelter to the Virgin and Child on their flight into 
Egypt ^ Another tradition connects the Jew with 
the wild huntsman, and there is a forest at Bretten 
in Swabia, which he is said to haunt. Popular 
superstition attributes to him there a purse con- 
taining a groschen, which, as often as it is expended, 
returns to the spender'. 

In the Harz one form of the Wild Huntsman 
myth is to this effect, — that he was a Jew who had 
refused to suffer our Blessed Lord to drink out of 
a river, or out of a horse-trough, but had contemp- 
tuously pointed out to Him the hoof-print of a 
horse, in which a little water had collected, and 
had bid Him quench His thirst thence ^ 

As the Wild Huntsman is the impersonification 
of the storm, it is curious to find in parts of France 
that the sudden roar of a gale at night is attributed 
by the vulgar to the passing of the Everlasting 

A Swiss story is, that he was seen one day stand- 
ing upon the Matterberg, which is below the 
Matterhorn, contemplating the scene with mingled 

' Aventinus, Bayr. Chronik, viii. 

* Meier, Schwabischen Sagen, i. ii6. 

^ Kuhn u. Schwarz, Nordd. Sagen, p. 4Q9. 

28 The Wandering Jezv 

sorrow and wonder. Once before he stood on that 
spot, and then it was the site of a flourishing city, 
now it is covered with gentian and wild pinks. 
Once again will he revisit the hill, and that will be 
on the eve of Judgment. 

Perhaps, of all the myths which originated in the 
Middle Ages, none is more striking than that we 
have been considering ; indeed there is something 
so calculated to arrest the attention and to excite 
the imagination in the outline of the story, that it 
is remarkable that we should find an interval of 
three centuries elapse between its first introduction 
into Europe by Matthew Paris and Philip Mouskes, 
and its general acceptance in the sixteenth century. 
As a myth, its roots lie in that great mystery of 
human life which is an enigma never solved, and 
ever originating speculation. 

What was life.'* was it of necessity limited to 
fourscore years, or could it be extended indefinitely t 
were questions curious minds never wearied of 
asking. And so the mythology of the past teemed 
with legends of favoured or accursed mortals, who 
had reached beyond the term of days set to most 
men. Some had discovered the water of life, the 
fountain of perpetual youth, and were ever renew- 
ing their strength. Others had dared the power of 


The Wandering Jew 29 

God, and were therefore sentenced to feel the 
weight of His displeasure, without tasting the 
repose of death. 

John the Divine slept at Ephesus, untouched by- 
corruption, with the ground heaving over his breast 
as he breathed, waiting the summons to come forth 
and witness against Antichrist. The seven sleepers 
reposed in a cave, and centuries ghded by like a 
watch in the night. The monk of Hildesheim, 
doubting how with God a thousand years could be 
as yesterday, listened to the melody of a bird in 
the green wood during three minutes, and found 
that in three minutes three hundred years had 
flown. Joseph of Arimathaea, in the blessed city 
of Sarras, draws perpetual life from the Saint 
Graal ; Merlin sleeps and sighs in an old tree, spell- 
bound of Vivien. Charlemagne and Barbarossa wait, 
crowned and armed, in the heart of the mountain, 
till the time comes for the release of Fatherland 
from despotism. And, on the other hand, the curse 
of a deathless life has passed on the Wild Hunts- 
man, because he desired to chase the red-deer for 
evermore ; on the Captain of the Phantom Ship, 
because he vowed he would double the Cape 
whether God willed it or not ; on the Man in the 
Moon, because he gathered sticks during the 


80 The Wandering Jew 

Sabbath rest ; on the dancers of Kolbeck, because 
they desired to spend eternity in their mad gam-| 

I began this article intending to conclude it with 
a bibliographical account of the tracts, letters, ^j 
essays, and books, written upon the Wandering ^H 
Jew ; but I relinquish my intention at the sight of 
the multitude of works which have issued from the 
press upon the subject; and this I do with less 
compunction as the bibliographer may at little 
trouble and expense satisfy himself, by perusing 
the lists given by Grasse in his essay on the myth, 
and those to be found in "Notice historique et 
bibliographique sur les Juifs-errants : par G. B." 
(Gustave Brunet), Paris, Techener, 1845 ; also in 
the article by M. Mangin, in " Causeries et Medita- 
tions historiques et litteraires," Paris, Duprat, 1843 ; 
and, lastly, in the essay by Jacob le Bibliophile 
(M. Lacroix) in his "Curiosites de I'Histoire des 
Croyances populaires," Paris, Delahays, 1859. 

Of the romances of Eugene Sue and Dr. Croly, 
founded upon the legend, the less said the better. 
The original legend is so noble in its severe sim- 
plicity, that none but a master mind could develope 
it with any chance of success. Nor have the 
poetical attempts upon the story fared better. 

Tfie Wandering Jew 31 

It was reserved for the pencil of Gustave Dore to 
treat it with the originality it merited, and in a 
series of woodcuts to produce at once a poem, a 
romance, and a chef-d'ceuvre of art. 

iPrcster 3ol)n 

Arms of ths See of Chichester 

ABOUT the middle of the twelfth century, 
rumour circulated through Europe that there 
reigned in Asia a powerful Christian Emperor, Pres- 
byter Johannes. In a bloody fight he had broken 
the power of the Mussulmans, and was ready to come 
to the assistance of the Crusaders. Great was the 
exultation in Europe, for of late the news from 
the East had been gloomy and depressing, the 
power of the infidel had increased, overwhelming 
masses of men had been brought into the field 
against the chivalry of Christendom, and it was felt 
that the cross must yield before the odious crescent. 

Prester John 83 

The news of the success of the Priest-King 
opened a door of hope to the desponding Christian 
world. Pope Alexander III. determined at once 
to effect a union with this mysterious personage, 
and on the 37th of September, 11 77, wrote him a 
letter, which he entrusted to his physician, Philip, 
to deliver in person. 

Phihp started on his embassy, but never returned. 
The conquests of Tschengis-Khan again attracted 
the eyes of Christian Europe to the East. The 
Mongol hordes were rushing in upon the West with 
devastating ferocity ; Russia, Poland, Hungary, and 
the Eastern provinces of Germany, had succumbed, 
or suffered grievously ; and the fears of other 
nations were roused lest they too should taste the 
misery of a Mongolian invasion. It was Gog and 
Magog come to slaughter, and the times of Anti- 
christ were dawning. But the battle of Liegnitz 
stayed them in their onward career, and Europe 
was saved. 

Pope Innocent IV. determined to convert these 
wild hordes of barbarians, and subject them to the 
cross of Christ ; he therefore sent among them a 
number of Dominican and Franciscan missioners, 
and embassies of peace passed between the Pope, 
the King of France, and the Mogul Khan. 


34 Prester John 

The result of these communications with the 
East was that the travellers learned how false were 
the prevalent notions of a mighty Christian empire 
existing in central Asia. Vulgar superstition or 
conviction is not, however, to be upset by evidence, 
and the locality of the monarchy was merely trans- 
ferred by the people to Africa, and they fixed upon 
Abyssinia, with a show of truth, as the seat of the 
famous Priest-King. However, still some doubted. 
John de Plano-Carpini and Marco Polo, though 
they acknowledged the existence of a Christian 
monarch in Abyssinia, yet stoutly maintained as 
well that the Prester John of popular belief reigned 
in splendour somewhere in the dim Orient. 

But before proceeding with the history of this 
strange fable, it will be well to extract the different 
accounts given of the Priest-King and his realm by 
early writers ; and we shall then be better able 
to judge of the influence the myth obtained in 

Otto of Freisingen is the first author to mention 
the monarchy of Prester John, with whom we are 
acquainted. Otto wrote a chronicle up to the date 
1156, and he relates that in 1 145 the Catholic 
Bishop of Cabala visited Europe to lay certain 
complaints before the Pope. He mentioned the fall 

Prester John 85 

of Edessa, and also "he stated that a few years 
ago a certain King and Priest called John, who 
lives on the further side of Persia and Armenia in 
the remote East, and who, with all his people, were 
Christians, though belonging to the Nestorian 
Church, had overcome the royal brothers Samiardi, 
kings of the Medes and Persians, and had captured 
Ecbatana, their capital and residence. The said 
kings had met with their Persian, Median, and 
Assyrian troops, and had fought for three consecu- 
tive days, each side having determined to die 
rather than take to flight. Prester John, for so 
they are wont to call him, at length routed the 
Persians, and after a bloody battle, remained 
victorious. After which victory the said John was 
hastening to the assistance of the Church at 
Jerusalem, but his host, on reaching the Tigris, 
was hindered from passing through a deficiency in 
boats, and he directed his march North, since he 
had heard that the river was there covered with ice. 
In that place he had waited many years, expecting 
severe cold, but the winters having proved unpro- 
pitious, and the severity of the climate having 
carried off many soldiers, he had been forced to 
retreat to his own land. This king belongs to the 
family of the Magi, mentioned in the Gospel, and 
D 2 

36 Prestcr John 

he rules over the very people formerly governed by 
the Magi ; moreover, his fame and his wealth is so 
great, that he uses an emerald sceptre only. 

"Excited by the example of his ancestors, who 
came to worship Christ in His cradle, he had pro- 
posed to go to Jerusalem, but had been impeded 
by the above-mentioned causes \" 

At the same time the story crops up in otl 
quarters, so that we cannot look upon Otto as tl 
inventor of the myth. The celebrated Maimonidj 
alludes to it in a passage quoted by Joshua Lor^ 
a Jewish physician to Benedict XIII. Maimonic 
lived from 1135 to 1204. The passage is as follow 
— " It is evident both from the letters of Rambai 
(Maimonides), whose memory be blessed, and from 
the narration of merchants who have visited the 
ends of the earth, that at this time the root of our 
faith is to be found in the lands of Babel and 
Teman, where long ago Jerusalem was an exile ; 
not reckoning those who live in the land of Paras ' 
and Madai ^ of the exiles of Schomrom, the number 
of which people is as the sand : of these some are 
still under the yoke of Paras, who is called the 
Great-Chief Sultan by the Arabs ; others live in a 

* Otto, Ep. Frising., lib. vii. c. 33. 
» Persia. » Media. 

Pr ester John 37 

place under the yoke of a strange people 

governed by a Christian chief, Preste-Cuan by 
name. With him they have made a compact, and 
he with them ; and this is a matter concerning 
which there can be no manner of doubt." 

Benjamin of Tudela, another Jew, travelled in 
the East between the years 1159 — 1173, the last 
being the date of his death. He wrote an account 
of his travels, and gives in it some information 
with regard to a mythical Jew king, who reigned 
in the utmost splendour over a realm inhabited by 
Jews alone, situate somewhere in the midst of a 
desert of vast extent. About this period there 
appeared a document which produced intense 
excitement throughout Europe — a letter, yes ! a 
letter from the mysterious personage himself to 
Manuel Comnenus, Emperor of Constantinople 
(1143 — -ti8o). The exact date of this extra- 
ordinary epistle cannot be fixed with any certainty, 
but it certainly appeared before 1241, the date of 
the conclusion of the chronicle of Albericus Trium 
Fontium. This Albericus relates that in the year 
1 165 "Presbyter Joannes, the Indian king, sent 
his wonderful letter to various Christian princes, 
and especially to Manuel of Constantinople, and 
Frederic the Roman Emperor." Similar letters were 

38 P Tester JoJm 

sent to Alexander III., to Louis VII. of France, and 
to the King of Portugal, which are alluded to in 
chronicles and romances, and which were indee 
turned into rhyme and sung all over Europe 
minstrels and trouveres. The letter is as follows : — 

"John, Priest by the Almighty power of God 
and the Might of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of 
Kings, and Lord of Lords, to his friend Emanuel, 
Prince of Constantinople, greeting, wishing him 
health, prosperity, and the continuance of Divine 

" Our Majesty has been informed that you hold 
our Excellency in love, and that the report of our 
greatness has reached you. Moreover we have 
heard through our treasurer that you have been 
pleased to send to us some objects of art and 
interest, that our Exaltedness might be gratified 

" Being human, I receive it in good part, and we 
have ordered our treasurer to send you some of our 
articles in return. 

"Now we desire to be made certain that you 
hold the right faith, and in all things cleave to 
Jesus Christ, our Lord, for we have heard that your ,. 
court regard you as a god, though we know that 
you are mortal, and subject to human infirmities. 

Prester John 39 

Should you desire to learn the greatness 

and excellency of our Exaltedness and of the land 
subject to our sceptre, then hear and believe : — I, 
Presbyter Johannes, the Lord of Lords, surpass all 
under heaven in virtue, in riches, and in power ; 
seventy-two kings pay us tribute. ... In the three 
Indies our Magnificence rules, and our land extends 
beyond India, where rests the body of the holy 
Apostle Thomas ; it reaches towards the sunrise 
over the wastes, and it trends towards deserted 
Babylon near the tower of Babel. Seventy-two 
provinces, of which only a few are Christian, serve us. 
Each has its own king, but all are tributary to us. 

" Our land is the home of elephants, dromedaries, 
camels, crocodiles, meta-collinarum, cametennus, 
tensevetes, wild asses, white and red lions, white 
bears, white merles, crickets, griffins, tigers, lamias, 
hyaenas, wild horses, wild oxen and wild men, men 
with horns, one-eyed, men with eyes before and 
behind, centaurs, fauns, satyrs, pygmies, forty-ell 
high giants, Cyclopses, and similar women ; it is the 
home, too, of the phoenix, and of nearly all living 
animals. We have some people subject to us who 
feed on the flesh of men and of prematurely born 
animals, and who never fear death. When any of 
these people die, their friends and relations eat him 

4-0 Pr ester ^oJin 

ravenously, for they regard It as a main duty to 
munch human flesh. Their names are Gog and 
Magog, Anie, Agit, Azenach, Fommeperi, Befari, 
Conei-Samante, Agrimandri, Vintefolei, Casbei, 
Alanei. These and similar nations were shut in 
behind lofty mountains by Alexander the Great, 
towards the North. We lead them at our pleasure 
against our foes, and neither man nor beast is left 
undevoured, if our Majesty gives the requisite per- 
mission. And when all our foes are eaten, then we 
return with our hosts home again. These accursed 
fifteen nations will burst forth from the fotir quarters 
of the earth at the end of the world, in the 
times of Antichrist, and overrun all the abodes of 
the Saints as well as the great city Rome, which, 
by the way, we are prepared to give to our son who 
will be born, along with all Italy, Germany, the tw^ 
Gauls, Britain and Scotland. We shall also give hi 
Spain and all the land as far as the icy sea. Tb 
nations to which I have alluded, according to the 
words of the prophet, shall not stand in the judg- 
ment, on account of their offensive practices, but 
will be consumed to ashes by a fire which will fall 
on them from heaven. 

" Our land streams with honey, and is overflow- 
ing with milk. In one region grows no poisonous 



Pr ester John 41 

herb, nor does a querulous frog ever quack In it, no 
scorpion exists, nor does the serpent glide amongst 
the grass, nor can any poisonous animals exist in 
it, or injure any one. 

"Among the heathen, flows through a certain 
province the river Indus ; encircling Paradise, it 
spreads its arms in manifold windings through the 
entire province. Here are found the emeralds, 
sapphires, carbuncles, topazes, chrysolites, onyxes, 
beryls, sardius, and other costly stones. Here 
grows the plant Assidos, which, when worn by any 
one, protects him from the evil spirit, forcing it to 
state its business and name ; consequently the foul 
spirits keep out of the way there. In a certain 
land subject to us, all kinds of pepper is gathered, 
and is exchanged for corn and bread, leather and 
cloth. ... At the foot of Mount Olympus bubbles 
up a spring which changes its flavour hour by hour, 
night and day, and the spring is scarcely three days' 
journey from Paradise, out of which Adam was 
driven. If any one has tasted thrice of the 
fountain, from that day he will feel no fatigue, but 
v/ill as long as he lives be as a man of thirty years. 
Here are found the small stones called Nudiosi, 
which, if borne about the body, prevent the sight 
from waxing feeble, and restore it where it is lost. 

42 Prester John 

The more the stone is looked at, the keener 
becomes the sight. In our territory is a certain 
waterless sea, consisting of tumbling billows of sand 
never at rest. None have crossed this sea ; it lacks 
water altogether, yet fish are cast up upon the 
beach of various kinds, very tasty, and the like are 
nowhere else to be seen. Three days' journey from 
this sea are mountains from which rolls down a 
5tony, waterless river, which opens into the sandy 
sea. As soon as the stream reaches the sea, its 
stones vanish in it and are never seen again. As 
long as the river is in motion, it cannot be crossed ; 
only four days a week is it possible to traverse it. 
Between the sandy sea and the said mountains, in 
a certain plain is a fountain of singular virtue, 
which purges Christians and would-be Christians 
from all transgressions. The water stands four 
inches high in a hollow stone shaped like a mussel- 
shell. Two saintly old men watch by it, and ask 
the comers whether they are Christians, or are 
about to become Christians, then whether they 
desire healing with all their hearts. If they have 
answered well, they are bidden to lay aside their 
clothes, and to step into the mussel. If what they 
said be true, then the water begins to rise and gush 
over their heads ; thrice does the water thus lift 

Prestcr John 43 

itself, and every one who has entered the mussel 
leaves it cured of every complaint. 

"Near the wilderness trickles between barren 
mountains a subterranean rill, which can only by 
chance be reached, for only occasionally the earth 
gapes, and he who would descend must do it with 
precipitation, ere the earth closes again. All that 
is gathered under the ground there is gem and 
precious stone. The brook pours into another river, 
and the inhabitants of the neighbourhood obtain 
thence abundance of precious stones. Yet they 
never venture to sell them without having first 
offered them to us for our private use : should we 
decHne them, they are at liberty to dispose of 
them to strangers. Boys there are trained to 
remain three or four days under water, diving 
after the stones. 

" Beyond the stone river are the ten tribes of the 
Jews, which, though subject to their own kings, are, 
for all that, our slaves and tributary to our Majesty. 
In one of our lands, hight Zone, are worms called 
in our tongue Salamanders. These worms can 
only live in fire, and they build cocoons like silk- 
worms, which are unwound by the ladies of our 
palace, and spun into cloth and dresses, which are 
worn by our Exaltedness. These dresses in order 

44 Prester John 

to be cleaned and washed are cast into flames. . . . 
When we go to war, we have fourteen golden and 
bejewelled crosses borne before us instead of 
banners ; each of these crosses is followed by 1 0,000 
horsemen, and 100,000 foot soldiers fully armed, 
without reckoning those in charge of the luggage 
and provision. 

"When we ride abroad plainly, we have a 
wooden, unadorned cross, without gold or gem 
about it, borne before us, in order that we may 
m-editate on the sufferings of Our Lord Jesus 
Christ ; also a golden bowl filled with earth, to 
remind us of that whence we sprung, and that to 
which we must return ; but besides these there is 
borne a silver bowl full of gold, as a token to all 
that we are the Lord of Lords. 

"All riches, such as are upon the world, our 
Magnificence possesses in superabundance. With 
us no one lies, for he who speaks a lie is thence- 
forth regarded as dead ; he is no more thought of, 
or honoured by us. No vice is tolerated by us. 
Every year we undertake a pilgrimage, with retinue 
of war, to the body of the holy prophet Daniel, 
which is near the desolated site of Babylon. In our 
realm fishes are caught, the blood of which dyes 
purple. The Amazons and the Brahmins are sub- 

Prester John 45 

ject to us. The palace in which our Supereminency 
resides, is built after the pattern of the castle built 
by the Apostle Thomas for the Indian king Gundo- 
forus. Ceilings, joists, and architrave are of 
Sethym wood, the roof of ebony, which can never 
catch fire. Over the gable of the palace are, at the 
extremities, two golden apples, in each of which are 
two carbuncles, so that the gold may shine by day, 
and the carbuncles by night. The greater gates of 
the palace are of sardius, with the horn of the 
horned snake inwrought, so that no one can bri^ig 
poison within. 

" The other portals are of ebony. The windows 
are of crystal ; the tables are partly of gold, partly 
of amethyst, and the columns supporting the tables 
are partly of ivory, partly of amethyst. The court 
in which we watch the jousting is floored with onyx 
in order to increase the courage of the combatants. 
In the palace, at night, nothing is burned for light 
but wicks supplied with balsam. . . . Before our 
palace stands a mirror, the ascent to which consists 
of five and twenty steps of porphyry, and serpen- 
tine." After a description of the gems adorning this 
mirror, which is guarded night and day by three 
thousand armed men. he exolains its use : " We 

46 Prester John 

look therein and behold all that is taking place 
in every province and region subject to our sceptre. 

" Seven kings wait upon us monthly, in turn, with 
sixty-two dukes, two hundred and fifty-six counts 
and marquises : and twelve archbishops sit at table 
with us on our right, and twenty bishops on the 
left, besides the patriarch of S. Thomas, the 
Sarmatian Protopope, and the Archpope of Susa. 
. . . Our lord high steward is a primate and king, 
our cup-bearer is an archbishop and king, our 
chamberlain a bishop and king, our marshal a king 
and abbot." 

I may be spared further extracts from this extra- 
ordinary letter, which proceeds to describe the 
church in which Prester John worships, by 
enumerating the precious stones of which it is 
constructed, and their special virtues. 

Whether this letter was in circulation before Pope 
Alexander wrote his, it is not easy to decide. 
Alexander does not allude to it, but speaks of the 
reports which have reached him of the piety and 
the magnificence of the Priest -King. At the same 
time, there runs a tone of bitterness through the 
letter, as though the Pope had been galled at the 
pretensions of this mysterious personage, and per- 

Pr ester John 47 

haps winced under the prospect of the man-eaters 
overrunning Italy, as suggested by John the Priest. 
The papal epistle is an assertion of the claims of 
the See of Rome to universal dominion, and it 
assures the Eastern Prince-Pope that his Christian 
professions are worthless, unless he submits to the 
successor of Peter. "Not every one that saith 
unto me. Lord, Lord," &c., quotes the Pope, and 
then explains that the will of God is that every 
monarch and prelate should eat humble pie to the 
Sovereign Pontiff. 

Sir John Maundevil gives the origin of the 
priestly title of the Eastern despot, in his curious 
book of travels. 

" So it befelle, that this emperour cam, with a 
Cristene knyght with him, into a chirche in Egypt : 
and it was Saterday in Wyttson woke. And the 
bishop made orders. And he beheld and listened 
the servyse fulle tentyfly ; and he asked the Cristene 
knyght, what men of degree thei scholden ben, that 
the prelate had before him. And the knyght an- 
swerede and seyde, that thei scholde ben prestes. 
And then the emperour seyde, that he wolde no 
longer ben clept kyng ne emperour, but preest : 
and that he wolde have the name of the first preest, 
that wente out of the chirche ; and his name was 

48 Prestcr John 

John. And so evere more sittlens, he is clept 
Prestre John." 

It is probable that the foundation of the whole 
Prester-John myth lay in the report which 
reached Europe of the wonderful successes of 
Nestorianism in the East, and there seems reason 
to believe that the famous letter given above was 
a Nestorian fabrication. It certainly looks un- 
European ; the gorgeous imagery is thoroughly 
Eastern, and the disparaging tone in which Rome 
is spoken of could hardly have been the expression 
of Western feelings. The letter has the object in 
view of exalting the East in religion and arts to an 
undue eminence at the expense of the West, and 
it manifests some ignorance of European geography, 
when it speaks of the land extending from Spain 
to the Polar Sea. Moreover, the sites of the patri- 
archates, and the dignity conferred on that of S. 
Thomas are indications of a Nestorian bias. 
• A brief glance at the history of this heretical 
Church may be of value here, as showing that there 
really was a foundation for the wild legends con- 
cerning a Christian empire in the East, so prevalei 
in Europe. Nestorius, a priest of Antioch and 
disciple of S. Chrysostom, was elevated by tl 
emperor to the patriar-chate of Constantinople, ani 

Prester John 49 

in the year 428 began to propagate his heresy, 
denying the hypostatic union. The Council of 
Ephesus denounced him, and, in spite of the 
emperor and court, Nestorius was anathematized 
and driven into exile. His sect spread through 
the East, and became a flourishing Church. It 
reached to China, where the emperor was all but 
converted ; its missionaries traversed the frozen 
tundras of Siberia, preaching their maimed Gospel 
to the wild hordes which haunted those dreary 
wastes ; it faced Buddhism and wrestled with it for 
the religious supremacy in Thibet ; it established 
churches in Persia and in Bokhara ; it penetrated 
India ; it formed colonies in Ceylon, in Siam, and 
in Sumatra ; so that the Catholicos or Pope of 
Bagdad exercised sway more extensive than that 
ever obtained by the successor of S. Peter. The 
number of Christians belonging to that communion 
probably exceeded that of the members of the 
true Catholic Church in East and West. But the 
Nestorian Church was not founded on the Rock, 
it rested on Nestorius, and when the rain descended, 
and the winds blew, and the floods came, and beat 
upon that house, it fell, leaving scarce a fragment 

Rubruquis the Franciscan, who in 1253 was sent 


50 Pr ester John 

on a mission into Tartary, was the first to let in 
a little light on the fable. He writes, " The Catai 
dwelt beyond certain mountains across which I 
wandered, and in a plain in the midst of the moun- 
tains lived once an important Nestorian shepherd, 
who ruled over the Nestorian people, called Nay- 
man. When Coir-Khan died, the Nestorian people 
raised this man to be king, and called him King 
Johannes, and related of him ten times as much as 
the truth. The Nestorians thereabouts have this 
way with them, that about nothing they make a 
great fuss, and thus they have got it noised abroad 
that Sartach, Mangu-Khan, and Ken-Khan were 
Christians, simply because they treated Christians 
well, and showed them more honour than other 
people. Yet, in fact, they were not Christians at 
all. And in like manner the story got about that 
there was a great King John. However, I traversed 
his pastures, and no one knew any thing about him, 
except a few Nestorians. In his pastures lives 
Ken-Khan, at whose court was Brother Andrew, 
whom I met on my way back. This Johannes had 
d brother, a famous shepherd, named Unc, who 
lived three weeks' journey beyond the mountains 
of Caracatais." 

This Unk-Khan was a real individual ; he lost 

Presier John 51 

his life in the year 1203. Kuschhik, prince of 
the Nayman, and follower of Kor-Khan, fell in 
1218. »» 

Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller (1254 — 1324), 
identifies Unk-Khan with Prester John ; he says, 
" I will now tell you of the deeds of the Tartars, 
how they gained the mastery, and spread over the 
whole earth. The Tartars dwelt between Georgia 
and Bargu, where there is a vast plain and level 
country, on which are neither cities nor forts, but 
capital pasturage and water. They had no chief 
of their own, but paid to Prester Johannes tribute. 
Of the greatness of this Prester Johannes, who was 
properly called Un-Khan, the whole world spake ; 
the Tartars gave him one of every ten head of 
cattle. When Prester John noticed that they were 
increasing, he feared them, and planned how he 
could injure them. He determined therefore to 
scatter them, and he sent barons to do this. But 
the Tartars guessed what Prester John purposed 
.... and they went away into the wide wastes 
of the North, where they might be beyond his 
reach." He then goes on to relate how Tschengis- 
(Jenghiz-)Khan became the head of the Tartars, 
and how he fought against Prester John, and, after 
a desperate fight, overcame and slew him. 
E 2 

52 Prester John 

The Syriac Chronicle of the Jacobite Primate, 
Gregory Bar-Hebraeus (born 1226, died 1286), also 
identifies Unk-Khan with Prester John. " In the 
year of the Greeks 1514, of the Arabs 599 (a.D. 
1202), when Unk-Khan, who is the Christian King 
John, ruled over a stock of the barbarian Hunns, 
called Kergis, Tschengys-Khan served him with 
great zeal. When John observed the superiority 
and serviceableness of the other, he envied him, 
and plotted to seize and murder him. But two 
sons of Unk-Khan, having heard this, told it to 
Tschengys, whereupon he and his comrades fled 
by night and secreted themselves. Next morning 
Unk-Khan took possession of the Tartar tents, 
but found them empty. Then the party of 
Tschengys fell upon him, and they met by the 
spring called Balschunah, and the side of 
Tschengys won the day ; and the followers of 
Unk-Khan were compelled to yield. They met 
again several times, till Unk-Khan was utterly 
discomfited and was slain himself, and his wives, 
sons, and daughters carried into captivity. Yet 
we must consider that John, king of the Kergis, 
was not cast down for nought, nay rather, because 
he had turned his heart from the fear of Christ 
his Lord, who had exalted him, and had taken a 

P Tester John 53 

wife of the Zinlsh nation, called Quarakhata. 
Because he forsook the religion of his ancestors 
and followed strange gods, therefore God took the 
government from him, and gave it to one better 
than he, and whose heart was right before God." 

Some of the early travellers, such as John de 
Plano-Carpini and Marco Polo, in disabusing the 
popular mind of the belief in Prester John as a 
mighty Asiatic Christian monarch, unintentionally 
turned the popular faith in that individual into 
a new direction. They spoke of the black people 
of Abascia in Ethiopia, which, by the way, they 
called Middle India, as a great people subject to 
a Christian monarch. 

Marco Polo says that the true monarch of 
Abyssinia is Christ ; but that it is governed by 
six kings, three of whom are Christians and three 
Saracens, and that they are in league with the 
Soudan of Aden. 

Bishop Jordanus, in his description of the world, 
accordingly sets down Abyssinia as the kingdom 
of Prester John ; and such was the popular im- 
pression, which was confirmed by the appearance 
at intervals of ambassadors at European courts 
from the King of Abyssinia. The discovery of 
the Cape of Good Hope was due partly to a desire 

54 Prester John 

manifested in Portugal to open communications 
with this monarch'', and King John II. sent two 
men learned in Oriental languages through Egypt 
to the court of Abyssinia. The might and domi- 
nion of this prince, who had replaced the Tartar 
chief in the popular creed as Prester John, was 
of course greatly exaggerated, and was supposed 
to extend across Arabia and Asia to the wall of 
China. The spread of geographical knowledge 
has contracted the area of his dominions, and a 
critical acquaintance with history has exploded 
the myth which invested Unk-Khan the nomad 
chief with all the attributes of a demigod, uniting 
in one the utmost pretensions of a Pope and the 
proudest claims of a monarch. 

^ Ludolfi, Hist. yEthiopica, lib. ii. cap. i, 2. Petrus, Petri 
filius Lusitaniae princeps, M. Pauli Veneti librum (qui de 
Indorum rebus multa : speciatim vero de Presbytero Johanne 
aliqua magnifice scripsit) Venetiis secum in patriam detu- 
lerat, qui (Chronologicis Lusitanorum testantibus) pr^ecipuam 
Johanni Regi ansam dedit Indicae navigationis, quam Hen- 
ricus Johannis I. filius, patruus ejus, tentaverat, prose- 
quendae, &c. 


CJe Btbining l^oTi 

FROM the remotest period a rod has been 
regarded as the symbol of power and autho- 
rity, and Holy Scripture employs it in the popular 
sense. Thus David speaks of " Thy rod and Thy 
staff comforting me;" and Moses works his miracles 
before Pharaoh with the rod as emblem of Divine 
commission. It was his rod which became a serpent, 
which turned the water of Egypt into blood, which 
opened the waves of the Red Sea and restored 
them to their former level, which " smote the rock 
of stone so that the water gushed out abundantly." 
The rod of Aaron acted an oracular part in the 
contest with the princes ; laid up before the ark, 
it budded and brought forth almonds. In this in- 
stance we have it no longer as a symbol of autho- 
rity, but as a means of divining the will of God. 
And as such it became liable to abuse ; thus Hosea 

56 The Divining Rod 

rebukes the chosen people for practising similar 
divinations. "My people ask counsel at their 
stocks, and their staff declareth unto them'." 

Long before this, Jacob had made a different use 
of rods, employing them as a charm to make 
his father-in-law's sheep bear pied and spotted 

We find rabdomancy a popular form of divina- 
tion among the Greeks, and also among the 
Romans. Cicero in his "De Officiis" alludes to 
it. " If all that is needful for our nourishment and 
support arrives to us by means of some divine rod, 
as people say, then each of us, free from all care 
and trouble, may give himself up to the exclusive 
pursuit of study and science"." 

Probably it is to this rod that Ennius alludes in 
the passage quoted in the first book of his " De 
Divinatione," wherein he laughs at those who 
for a drachma will teach the art of discovering 

According to Vetranius Maurus, Varro left a 
satire on the " Virgula divina," which has not been 
preserved. Tacitus tells us that the Germans 
practised some sort of divination by means of rods. 

* Hos. iv. 12. 2 £)£ Officiis. lib. i. cap. 44. 

The D ivin ing Red 5 7 

" For the purpose their method is simple. They 
cut a rod off some fruit-tree into bits, and after 
having distinguished them by various marks, they 
cast them into a white cloth. . . . Then the priest 
thrice draws each piece, and explains the oracle 
according to the marks ^." Ammianus Marcellinus 
says that the Alains employed an osier rod*. 

The fourteenth law of the Prisons ordered that 
the discovery of murders should be made by means 
of divining rods used in Church. These rods 
should be laid before the altar, and on the sacred 
relics, after which God was to be supplicated to 
indicate the culprit. This was called the Lot of 
rods, or Tan-teen, the Rod of Rods. 

But the middle ages was the date of the full 
development of the superstition, and the divining 
rod was believed to have efhcacy in discovering 
hidden treasures, veins of precious metal, springs of 
water, thefts, and murders. The first notice of its 
general use among late writers is in the " Testa- 
mentum Novum," hb. i. cap. 25, of Basil Valentine, 
a Benedictine monk of the fifteenth century. Basil 
speaks of the general faith in and adoption of this 
valuable instrument for the discovery of metals, 

^ Tacitus, German., cap. x. ** Ammian. Marcel, xxxi. 2. 

58 The Divining Rod 

which is carried by workmen in mines, either in 
their belts or in their caps. He says that there are 
seven names by which this rod is known, and to its 
excellencies under each title he devotes a chapter 
of his book. The names are : — Divine Rod, Shining 
Rod, Leaping Rod, Transcendent Rod, Trembling 
Rod, Dipping Rod, Superior Rod. In his admirable 
treatise on metals, Agricola speaks of the rod in 
terms of disparagement ; he considers its use as a 
relic of ancient magical forms, and he says that it 
is only irreligious workmen who employ it in their 
search after metals. Goclenius, however, in his 
treatise on the virtue of plants, stoutly does battle 
for the properties of the hazel rod. Whereupon 
Roberti, a Flemish Jesuit, falls upon him tooth and 
nail, disputes his facts, overwhelms him with abuse, 
and gibbets him for popular ridicule. Andreas 
Libavius, a writer I have already quoted in my 
article on the Wandering Jew, undertook a series 
of experiments upon the hazel divining rod, and 
concluded that there was truth in the popular 
belief. The Jesuit Kircher also " experimentalized 
several times on wooden rods which were declared 
to be sympathetic with regard to certain metals, by 
placing them on delicate pivots in equilibrium, but 
they never turned on the approach of metal." (De 

The Divining Rod 59 

Arte Magnetica.) However, a similar course of 
experiments over water led him to attribute to the 
rod the power of indicating subterranean springs 
and watercourses ; " I would not affirm it," he says, 
*' unless I had established the fact by my own 

Dechales, another Jesuit, author of a treatise on 
natural springs, and of a huge tome entitled 
•'Mundus Mathematicus," declared in the latter 
work, that no means of discovering sources is equal 
to the divining rod ; and he quotes a friend of his 
who, with a hazel rod in his hand, could discover 
springs with the utmost precision and facility, and 
could trace on the surface of the ground the course 
of a subterranean conduit. Another writer, Saint- 
Romain, in his " Science degagee des Chimeres de 
I'Ecole," exclaims ; " Is it not astonishing to see a 
rod which is held firmly in the hands, bow itself 
and turn visibly in the direction of water or metal, 
with more or less promptitude, according as the 
metal or the water are near or remote from the 

In 1659 the Jesuit Gaspard Schott writes that 
the rod is used in every town of Germany, and that 
he had frequent opportunity of seeing it used in 
the discovery of hidden treasures. "\ searched 

60 The Divining Rod 

with the greatest care," he adds, " into the question 
whether the hazel rod had any sympathy with gold 
and silver, and whether any natural property set it 
in motion. In like manner I tried whether a ring 
of metal, held suspended by a thread in the midst 
of a tumbler, and which strikes the hours, is moved 
by any similar force. I ascertained that these 
effects could only have arisen from the deception of 
those holding the rod or the pendulum, or, may be, 
from some diabolic impulsion, or, more likely still, 
because imagination sets the hand in motion." 

The Sieur le Royer, a lawyer of Rouen, in 1674, 
published his " Traite du Baton universel," in which 
he gives an account of a trial made with the rod in 
the presence of Father Jean Frangois, who had 
ridiculed the operation in his treatise on the 
science of waters, published at Rennes in 1655, 
and which succeeded in convincing the blasphe- 
mer of the divine Rod. Le Royer denies to it the 
power of picking out criminals, which had been 
popularly attributed to it, and as had been un- 
hesitatingly claimed for it by Debrio in his " Dis- 
quisitio Magica." 

And now I am brought to the extraordinary 
story of Jacques Aymar, which attracted the at- 
tention of Europe to the marvellous properties of 

The Divitiing Rod 61 

the divining rod. I shall give the history of .this 
man in full, as such an account is rendered neces- 
sary by the mutilated versions I have seen current 
in English magazine articles, which follow the lead 
of Mrs. Crowe, who narrates the earlier portion of 
this impostor's career, but says nothing of his expose 
and downfall. 

On the 5th July, 1692, at about ten o'clock in 
the evenings a wine-seller of Lyons and his wife 
were assassinated in their cellar, and their money 
carried off. On the morrow, the officers of justice 
arrived, and examined the premises. Beside the 
corpses, lay a large bottle wrapped in straw, and a 
bloody hedging bill, which undoubtedly had been 
the instrument used to accomplish the murder. 
Not a trace of those who had committed the 
horrible deed was to be found, and the magis- 
trates were quite at fault as to the direction in 
which they should turn for a clue to the murderer 
or murderers. 

At this juncture a neighbour reminded the 
magistrates of an incident which had taken place 
four years previous. It was this. In 1688 a theft 
of clothes had been made in Grenoble. In the 
parish of Crole lived a man named Jacques Aymar, 
supposed to be endowed with the faculty of using 

62 The Divining Rod 

the divining rod. This man was sent for. On 
reaching the spot where the theft had been com- 
mitted, his rod moved in his hand. He followed 
the track indicated by the rod, and it con- 
tinued to rotate between his fingers as long as 
he followed a certain direction, but ceased to turn 
if he diverged from it in the smallest degree. 
Guided by his rod, Aymar went from street to 
street, till he was brought to a standstill before the 
prison gates. These could not be opened without 
leave of the magistrate, who hastened to witness 
the experiment. The gates were unlocked, and 
Aymar, under the same guidance, directed his 
steps towards four prisoners lately incarcerated. 
He ordered the four to be stood in a line, and then 
he placed his foot on that of the first. The rod 
remained immovable. He passed to the second, 
and the rod turned at once. Before the third 
prisoner there were no signs, the fourth trembled, 
and begged to be heard. He owned himself the 
thief, along with the second, who also acknow- 
ledged the theft, and mentioned the name of the 
receiver of the stolen goods. This was a farmer in 
the neighbourhood of Grenoble. The magistrate 
and officers vjsited him and demanded the articles 
he had obtained. The farmer denied all know- 

The Divinhig Rod 63 

ledge of the theft and all participation in the 
booty. Aymar, however, by means of his rod, 
discovered the secreted property, and restored it 
to the persons from whom it had been stolen. 

On another occasion Aymar had been in quest 
of a spring of water, when he felt his rod turn 
sharply in his hand. On digging at the spot, 
expecting to discover an abundant source, the body 
of a murdered woman was found in a barrel, with a 
rope twisted round her neck. The poor creature 
was recognized as a woman of the neigbourhood 
who had vanished four months before. Aymar 
went to the house which the victim had inhabited, 
and presented his rod to each member of the 
household. It turned upon the husband of the 
deceased, who at once took to flight. 

The magistrates of Lyons, at their wits' end how 
to discover the perpetrators of the double murder 
in the wine-shop, urged the Procureur du Roi to 
make experiment of the powers of Jacques Aymar. 
The fellow was sent for, and he boldly asserted his 
capacity for detecting criminals, if he were first 
brought to the spot of the murder, so as to be put 
en rapport with the murderers. 

He was at once conducted to the scene of the 
outrage, with the rod in his hand. This remained 

64 The Diviiiinz Rod 


Stationary as he traversed the cellar, till he reached 
the spot where the body of the wine-seller had 
lain ; then the stick became violently agitated, and 
the man's pulse rose as though he were in an 
access of fever. The same motions and symptoms 
manifested themselves when he reached the place 
where the second victim had lain. 

Having thus received his imp7'ession, Aymar left 
the cellar, and, guided by his rod, or rather by an 
internal instinct, he ascended into the shop, and 
then stepping into the street, he followed from one 
to another, like a hound upon the scent, the track 
of the murderers. It conducted him into the court 
of the archiepiscopal palace, across it, and down to 
the gate of the Rhone. It was now evening, and 
the city gates being all closed, the quest of blood 
was relinquished for the night. 

Next morning Aymar returned to the scent. 
Accompanied by three officers, he left the gate 
and descended the right bank of the Rhone. The 
rod gave indications of there having been three 
involved in the murder, and he pursued the traces 
till two of them led to a gardener's cottage. Into 
this he entered, and there he asserted with warmth, 
against the asseverations of the proprietor to the 
contrary, that the fugitives had entered his room, 

The Divininz Rod 65 


had seated themselves at his table, and had drunk 
wine out of one of the bottles which he indicated. 
Aymar tested each of the household with his rod, 
to see if they had been in contact with the mur- 
derers. The rod moved over the two children 
only, aged respectively ten and nine years. These 
little things on being questioned, answered with 
reluctance, that during their father's absence on 
Sunday miorning, against his express commands, 
they had left the door open, and that two men, 
whom they described, had come in suddenly upon 
them, and had seated themselves and made free 
with the wine in the bottle pointed out by the man 
with the rod. This first verification of the talents 
of Jacques Aymar convinced some of the sceptical, 
but the Procurator General forbad the prosecution 
of the experiment till the man had been further 

As already stated, a hedging bill had been dis- 
covered on the scene of the murder, smeared with 
blood, and unquestionably the weapon with which 
the crime had been committed. Three bills from 
the same maker, and of precisely the same descrip- 
tion, were obtained, and the four were taken into a 
garden, and secretly buried at intervals. Aymar 
was then brought, staff in hand, into the garden, 


66 The Divininsr Rod 


and conducted over the spots where lay the bills. 
The rod began to vibrate as his feet stood upon 
the place where was concealed the bill which had 
been used by the assassins, but was motionless 
elsewhere. Still unsatisfied, the four bills were 
exhumed and concealed anew. The comptroller 
of the province himself bandaged the sorcerer's 
eyes and led him by the hand from place to place. 
The divining rod showed no signs of movement till 
it approached the blood-stained weapon, when it 
began to oscillate. 

The magistrates were now so far satisfied as to 
agree that Jacques Aymar should be authorized 
to follow the trail of the murderers, and have a 
company of archers to follow him. 

Guided by his rod, Aymar now recommenced 
his pursuit. He continued tracing down the right 
bank of the Rhone till he came to half a league 
from the bridge of Lyons. Here the footprints of 
three men were observed in the sand, as though 
engaged in entering a boat. A rowing boat was 
obtained, and Aymar with his escort descended 
the river; he found some difficulty in following 
the trail upon water, still he was able with a little 
care to detect it. It brought him under an arch of 
the bridge of Vienne, which boats rarely passed 

The Divining Rod 67 


beneath. This proved that the fugitives were 
without a guide. The way in which this curious 
journey was made was singular. At intervals 
Aymar was put ashore to test the banks with his 
rod, and ascertain whether the murderers had 
landed. He discovered the places where they had 
slept, and indicated the chairs or benches on which 
they had sat. In this manner, by slow degrees he 
arrived at the military camp of Sablon, between 
Vienne and Saint- Valier. There Aymar felt 
violent agitation, his cheeks flushed, and his pulse 
beat with rapidity. He penetrated the crowds of 
soldiers, but did not venture to use his rod, lest the 
men should take it ill, and fall upon him. He 
could not do more without special authority, and 
was constrained to return to Lyons. The magis- 
trates then provided him with the requisite powers, 
and he went back to the camp. Now he declared 
that the murderers were not there. He recom- 
menced his pursuit, and descended the Rhone 
again as far as Beaucaire. 

On entering the town he ascertained by means 
of his rod that those whom he was pursuing had 
parted company. He traversed several streets, 
then crowded on account of the annual fair, and 
was brought to a standstill before the prison 

F 2 

G8 The Divining Rod 

doors. One of the murderers was within, he 
declared, he would track the others afterwards. 
Having obtained permission to enter, he was 
brought into the presence of fourteen or fifteen 
prisoners. Amongst these was a hunchback who 
had only an hour previously been incarcerated on 
account of a theft he had committed at the fair. 
Aymar applied his rod to each of the prisoners in 
succession : it turned upon the hunchback. The 
sorcerer ascertained that the other two had left the 
town by a little path leading into the Nismes road. 
Instead of following this track, he returned to 
Lyons with the hunchback and the guard. At 
Lyons a triumph awaited him. The hunchback 
had hitherto protested his innocence, and declared 
that he had never set foot in Lyons. But as he 
was brought to that town by the way along which 
Aymar had ascertained that he had left it, the 
fellow was recognized at the different houses where 
he had lodged the night, or stopped for food. At 
the little town of Bagnols, he was confronted with 
the host and hostess of a tavern where he and his 
comrades had slept, and they swore to his identity, 
and accurately described his companions : their 
description tallied with that given by the children 
of the gardener. The wretched man was so con- 

The Divining Rod 69 

founded by this recognition, that he avowed having 
stayed there a few days before, along with two 
Proven9als. These men, he said, were the crimi- 
nals ; he had been their servant, and had only kept 
guard in the upper room whilst they committed 
the murders in the cellar. 

On his arrival in Lyons he was committed to 
prison, and his trial was decided on. At his first 
interrogation he told his tale precisely as he had 
related it before, with these additions, — the mur- 
derers spoke patois, and had purchased two bills. 
At ten o'clock in the evening all three had entered 
the wine-shop. The Provengals had a large bottle 
wrapped in straw, and they persua'ded the publican 
and his wife to descend with them into the cellar 
to fill it, whilst he, the hunchback, acted as watch 
in the shop. The two men murdered the wine- 
seller and his wife with their bills, and then 
mounted to the shop, where they opened the coffer 
and stole from it 130 crowns, eight Louis d'ors, 
and a silver belt. The crime accomplished, they 
took refuge in the court of a large house, — this was 
the archbishop's palace, indicated by Aymar, — and 
passed the night in it. Next day, early, they left 
Lyons, and only stopped for a moment at a gar- 
dener's cottage. Some way down the river, they 

70 The Divining Rod 

found a boat moored to the bank. This they 
loosed from its mooring and entered. They came 
ashore at the spot pointed out by the man with 
the stick. They stayed some days in the camp at 
Sablon, and then went on to Beaucaire. 

Aymar was now sent in quest of the other 
murderers. He resumed their trail at the gate of 
Beaucaire, and that of one of them, after consider- 
able detours, led him to the prison doors of 
Beaucaire, and he asked to be allowed to search 
among the prisoners for his man. This time he 
was mistaken. The second fugitive was not within ; 
but the gaoler affirmed that a man whom he de- 
scribed, — and his description tallied with the known 
appearance of one of the Provenpals, — had called 
at the gate shortly after the removal of the hunch- 
back, to inquire after him, and on learning of his 
removal to Lyons, had hurried off precipitately. 
Aymar now followed his track from the prison, and 
this brought him to that of the third criminal. He 
pursued the double scent for some days. But 
it became evident that the two culprits had been 
alarmed at what had transpired in Beaucaire, and 
were flying from France. Aymar traced them to 
the frontier, and then returned to Lyons. 

On the 30th of August, 1692, the poor hunch- 

TJie Divift mg Rod 71 

back was, according to sentence, broken on the 
wheel, in the Place des Terreaux. On his way to 
execution he had to pass the wine-shop. There 
the recorder publicly read his sentence, which had 
been delivered by thirty judges. The criminal 
knelt and asked pardon of the poor wretches in 
whose murder he was involved, after which he 
continued his course to the place fixed for his 

It may be well here to give an account of the 
authorities for this extraordinary story. There are 
three circumstantial accounts, and numerous letters 
written by the magistrate who sat during the trial, 
and by an eye-witness of the whole transaction, 
men honourable and disinterested, upon whose 
veracity not a shadow of doubt was supposed to 
rest by their contemporaries. 

M. Chauvin, Doctor of Medicine, published a 
Lettre a Mine, la Marquise de Senozan^ stir les 
inoyens dont on sest servi pour decouvrir les complices 
d'un assassinat commis a Lyon, le 5 Juillet, 1692, 
Lyons, 1692. The proces-verbal of the Procureur 
du Roi, M. de Vanini, is also extant, and published 
in the Physique occulte of the Abbe de Valle- 

Pierre Gamier, Doctor of Medicine of the 

72 The Divining Rod 

University of Montpelier, wrote a Dissertation 
physique en forme de lettre, a M. de Seve, seigneur de 
Flecheres, on Jacques Aymar, printed the same 
year at Lyons, and republished in the Histoire 
critique des pratiques super stitieuses, du Pere 

Doctor Chauvin was witness of nearly all the 
circumstances related, as was also the Abbe 
Lagarde, who has written a careful account of the 
whole transaction as far as to the execution of the 

Another eye-witness writes to the Abbe Bignon 
a letter printed by Lebrun in his Histoire cri- 
tique cited above. "The following circumstance 
happened to me yesterday evening," he says ; " M. 
le Procureur du Roi here, who, by the way, is one of 
the wisest and cleverest men in the country, sent for 
me at six o'clock, and had me conducted to the 
scene of the murder. We found there M. Grimaut, 
director of the customs, whom I knew to be a very 
upright man, and a young attorney named Besson, 
with whom I am not acquainted, but who M. le 
Procureur du Roi told me had the power of using 
the rod as well as M. Grimaut. We descended into 
the cellar where the murder had been committed, 
and where there were still traces of blood. Each 

The Divininz Rod 73 


time that M. Grimaut and the attorney passed the 
spot where the murder had been perpetrated, the 
rods they held in their hands began to turn, but 
ceased when they stepped beyond the spot. We 
tried experiments for more than an hour, as also 
with the bill, which M. le Procureur had brought 
along with him, and they were satisfactory. I ob- 
served several curious facts in the attorney. The 
rod in his hands was more violently moved than 
in those of M. Grimaut, and when I placed one of 
my fingers in each of his hands, whilst the rod 
turned, I felt the most extraordinary throbbings of 
the arteries in his palms. His pulse was at fever- 
heat. He sweated profusely, and at intervals he 
was compelled to go into the court to obtain fresh 

The Sieur Pauthot, Dean of the College of 
Medicine at Lyons, gave his observations to the 
public as well Some of them are as follows : " We 
began at the cellar in which the murder had been 
committed ; into this the man with the rod 
(Aymar) shrank from entering, because he felt 
violent agitations which overcame him when he 
used the stick over the place where the corpses of 
those who had been assassinated had lain. On 
entering the cellar, the rod was put in my hands, 

74 The Divi7ii7tg Rod 

and arranged by the master as most suitable fo? 
operation ; I passed and repassea over tne spot 
where the bodies had been found, but it remained 
immovable, and I felt no agitation. A lady of rank 
and merit, who was with us, took the rod after me : 
she felt it begin to move, and was internally 
agitated. Then the owner of the rod resumed it. 
and, passing over the same places, the stick rotated 
with such violence that it seemed easier to break 
than to stop it. The peasant then quitted our 
company to faint away, as was his wont after 
similar experiments. I followed him. He turned 
very pale and broke into a profuse perspiration, 
whilst for a quarter of an hour his pulse was 
violently troubled ; indeed the faintness was so 
considerable, that they were obliged to dash water 
in his face and give him water to drink in order to 
bring him round." He then describes experiments 
made over the bloody bill and others similar, which 
succeeded in the hands of Aymar and the lady, 
but failed when he attempted them himself Pierre 
Gamier, physician of the medical college of Mont- 
pelier, appointed to that of Lyons, has also 
written an account of what he saw, as mentioned 
above. He gives a curious proof of Aymar's 

The Divining Rod 75 

" M. le Lieutenant-General having been robbed 
by one of his lackeys, seven or eight months ago, 
and having lost by him twenty-five crowns which 
had been taken out of one of the cabinets behind 
his library, sent for Aymar, and asked him to 
discover the circumstances. Aymar went several 
times round the chamber, rod in hand, placing one 
foot on the chairs, on the various articles of furni- 
ture, and on two bureaux which are in the apart- 
ment, each of which contains several drawers. He 
fixed on the very bureau and the identical drawer 
out of which the money had been stolen. M. le 
Lieutenant-General bade him follow the track of 
the robber. He did so. With his rod he went out 
on a new terrace, upon which the cabinet opens, 
thence back into the cabinet and up to the fire, then 
into the library, and from thence he went direct up- 
stairs to the lackeys' sleeping apartment, when the 
rod guided him to one of the beds, and turned 
over one side of the bed, remaining motionless over 
the other. The lackeys then present cried out 
that the thief had slept on the side indicated by the 
rod, the bed having been shared with another foot- 
man, who occupied the further side." Gamier gives 
a lengthy account of various experiments he made 
along with the Lieutenant-General, the uncle of the 

76 The Divining Rod 

same, the Abbe de S. Remain, and M. de Puget, to 
detect whether there was imposture in the man. 
But all their attempts failed to discover a trace of 
deception. He gives a report of verbal examina- 
tion of Aymar which is interesting. The man 
always replied with candour. 

The report of the extraordinary discovery of 
murder made by the divining rod at Lyons at- 
tracted the attention of Paris, and Aymar was 
ordered up to the capital. There, however, his 
powers left him. The Prince de Conde submitted 
him to various tests, and he broke down under 
every one. Five holes were dug in the garden. 
In one was secreted gold, in another silver, in 
a third silver and gold, in the fourth copper, and in 
the fifth stones. The rod made no signs in presence 
of the metals, and at last actually began to move 
over the buried pebbles. He was sent to Chantilly 
to discover the perpetrators of a theft of trout made 
in the ponds of the park. He went round the 
water, rod in hand, and it turned at spots where he 
said the fish had been drawn out. Then, following 
the track of the thief, it led him to the cottage of 
one of the keepers, but did not move over any 
of the individuals then in the house. The keeper 
himself was absent, but arrived late at night, and 

The Divijiing Rod 11 

on hearing what was said, he roused Aymar from 
his bed, insisting on having his innocence vindi- 
cated. The divining rod, however, pronounced 
him guilty, and the poor fellow took to his 
heels, much upon the principle recommended by 
Montesquieu a while after. Said he, " If you are 
accused of having stolen the towers of Notre-Dame, 
bolt at once." 

A peasant, taken at haphazard from the street, 
was brought to the sorcerer as one suspected. The 
rod turned slightly, and Aymar declared that the 
man did not steal the fish, but ate of them. A 
boy was then introduced, who was said to be the 
keeper's son. The rod rotated violently at once. 
This was the finishing stroke, and Aymar was sent 
away by the Prince in disgrace. It now transpired 
that the theft of fish had taken place seven years 
before, and the lad was no relation of the keeper, 
but a country boy who had only been in Chantilly 
eight or ten months. M. Goyonnot, Recorder of 
the King's Council, broke a window in his house, 
and sent for the diviner, to whom he related a story 
of his having been robbed of valuables during the 
night. Aymar indicated the broken window as the 
means whereby the thief had entered the house, 
and pointed out the window by which he had left 

78 The Divining Rod 

it with the booty. As no such robbery had been 
committed, Aymar was turned out of the house as 
an impostor. A few similar cases brought him 
into such disrepute that he was obliged to leave 
Paris, and return to Grenoble. 

Some years after, he was made use of by the 
Marechal Montrevel, in his cruel pursuit of tl 

Was Aymar an impostor from first to last, 
did his powers fail him in Paris } and was it oi 
then that he had recourse to fraud } 

Much may be said in favour of either supposi^ 
tion. His expose at Paris tells heavily against hii 
but need not be regarded as conclusive evidence 
imposture throughout his career. If he really di 
possess the powers he claimed, it is not to be suj 
posed that these existed in full vigour under 
conditions ; and Paris is a place most unsuitable fq 
testing them, built on artificial soil, and full of di 
turbing influences of every description. It hi 
been remarked with others who used the rod, that 
their powers languished under excitement, and that 
the faculties had to be in repose, the attention 
to be concentrated on the subject of inquiry, or 
the action — nervous, magnetic, or electrical, or what 
you will — was impeded. 

The Divining Rod 79 



Now Paris, visited for the first time by a poor 
peasant, its saloons open to him, dazzling him with 
their splendour, and the novelty of finding himself 
in the midst of princes, dukes, marquises, and their 
families, not only may have agitated the country- 
man to such an extent as to deprive him of his 
peculiar faculty, but may have led him into simu- 
lating what he felt had departed from him, at the 
moment when he was under the eyes of the 
grandees of the Court. We have analogous cases 
in Bleton and Angelique Cottin. The former was a 
hydroscope, who fell into convulsions whenever he 
passed over running water. This peculiarity was no- 
ticed in him when a child of seven years old. When 
brought to Paris, he failed signally to detect the 
presence of water conveyed underground by pipes 
and conduits, but he pretended to feel the influence 
of water where there certainly was none. Angelique 
Cottin was a poor girl, highly charged with elec- 
tricity. Any one touching her received a violent 
shock ; one medical gentleman, having seated her 
on his knee, was knocked clean out of his chair by 
the electric fluid, which thus exhibited its sense of 
propriety. But the electric condition of Angelique 
became feebler as she approached Paris, and failed 
her altogether in the capital 

80 The Divining Rod 

I believe that the imagination is the principal 
motive force in those who use the divining' rod; 
but whether it is so solely, I am unable to decide. 
The powers of nature are so mysterious and in- 
scrutable that we must be cautious in limiting them, 
under abnormal conditions, to the ordinary laws of 

The manner in which the rod was used by certain 
persons renders self-deception possible. The rod is, 
generally of hazel, and is forked like a Y ; the fore- 
fingers are placed against the diverging arms of th( 
rod, and the elbows are brought back against the 
side ; thus the implement is held in front of th( 
operator, delicately balanced before the pit of th( 
stomach at a distance of about eight inches. Now, ii 
the pressure of the balls of the digits be in the least 
relaxed, the stalk of the rod will naturally fall. Itl 
has been assumed by some, that a restoration of the 
pressure will bring the stem up again, pointing 
towards the operator, and a little further pressure 
will elevate it into a perpendicular position. A 
relaxation of force will again lower it, and thus 
the rotation observed in the rod be maintained. I 
confess myself unable to accomplish this. The 
lowering of the leg of the rod is easy enough, but 
no efforts of mine to produce a revolution on its 

The D iviii ins: Rod 81 


axis have as yet succeeded. The muscles which 
would contract the fingers upon the arms of the 
stick, pass over the shoulder ; and it is worthy of 
remark that one of the medical men who witnessed 
the experiments made on Bleton the hydroscope, 
expressly alludes to a slight rising of the shoulders 
during the rotation of the divining rod. 

But the manner of using the rod was by no 
means identical in all cases. If, in all cases, it had 
simply been balanced between the fingers, some 
probability might be given to the suggestion above 
made, that the rotation was always effected by the 
involuntary action of the muscles. 

The usual manner of holding the rod, however, 
precluded such a possibility. The most ordinary 
use consisted in taking a forked stick in such a 
manner that the palms were turned upwards, and 
the fingers closed upon the branching arms of t|^e 
rod. Some required the normal position of the 
rod to be horizontal, others elevated the point, 
others again depressed it. 


82 The Divining Rod 

If the implement were straight, it was held in a 
similar manner, but the hands were brought some- 
what together, so as to produce a slight arc in the 
rod. Some who practised rabdomancy sustains 
this species of rod between their thumbs a 
forefingers, or else the thumb and forefing 
were closed, and the rod rested on their points, 
again it reposed on the flat of the hand, or on t 
back, the hand being held vertically and the ro' 
held in equilibrium. 

A third species of divining rod consisted in 
straight staff cut in two : one extremity of the on^ 
half was hollowed out, the other half was sharpened 
at the end, and this end was inserted in the hollow, 
and the pointed stick rotated in the cavity. 

The way in which Bleton used his rod is th 
minutely described : " He does not grasp it, n 
warm it in his hands, and he does not regard wi 
preference a hazel branch lately cut and full of s 
He places horizontally between his forefingers 
rod of any kind given to him, or picked up in t' 
road, of any sort of wood except elder, fresh or d 
not always forked, but sometimes merely bent. If 
it is straight, it rises slightly at the extremities by 
little jerks, but does not turn. If bent, it revolves 
on its axis with more or less rapidity, in more or 


From "Lettres qui decouvrent I'lllusion des Philosophes sur la Baguette. 
Paris, 1693. 

G 2 

The Divhmig Rod 85 

less time, according to the quantity and current of 
the water. I counted from thirty to thirty-five 
revolutions in a minute, and afterwards as many as 
eighty. A curious phenomenon is, that Bleton is 
able to make the rod turn between another person's 
fingers, even without seeing it or touching it, by 
approaching his body* towards it when his feet 
stand over a subterranean watercourse. It is true, 
however, that the motion is much less strong and 
less continuous in other fingers than his own. If 
Bleton stood on his head, and placed the rod be- 
tween his feet, though he felt strongly the pecu- 
liar sensations produced in him by flowing water, 
yet the rod remained stationary. If he were insu- 
lated on glass, silk, or wax, the sensations were less 
vivid, and the rotation of the stick ceased." 

But this experiment failed in Paris under cir- 
cumstances which either proved that Bleton's 
imagination produced the movement, or that his 
integrity was questionable. It is quite possible 
that in many instances the action of the muscles 
is purely involuntary, and is attributable to the 
imagination, so that the operator deceives himself 
as well as others. 

This is probably the explanation of the story of 
Mdlle. OHvet, a young lady of tender conscience, 

86 The Divining Rod 

who was a skilful performer with the divining rod, 
but shrank from putting her powers in operation, 
lest she should be indulging in unlawful acts. She 
consulted the Pere Lebrun, author of a work 
already referred to in this paper, and he advised 
her to ask God to withdraw the power from her, if 
the exercise of it was harmful to her spiritual con- 
dition. She entered into retreat for two days, an^ 
prayed with fervour. Then she made her commt 
nion, asking God what had been recommended 
her, at the moment when she received the Hos 
In the afternoon of the same day she made expei 
ment with her rod, and found that it would nj 
longer operate. The girl had strong faith in 
before — a faith coupled with fear, and as long 
that faith was strong in her, the rod moved : noi 
she believed that the faculty was taken from hei 
and the power ceased with the loss of her faith. 

If the divining rod is put in motion by any other 
force except the involuntary action of the muscles, 
we must confine its powers to the property of indi- 
cating the presence of flowing water. There are 
numerous instances of hydroscopes thus detecting 
the existence of a spring or of a subterranean 
watercourse ; the most remarkably-endowed indi- 
viduals of thi.«i description are Jean-Jacques Pa- 

The Divhimg Rod f57 

rangue, born near Marseilles in 1760, who expe- 
rienced a horror when near water which no one 
else perceived. He was endowed with the faculty 
of seeing water through the ground, says I'Abbe 
Sauri, who gives his history. Jenny Leslie, a 
Scotch girl, about the same date claimed similar 
powers. In 1790 Pennet, a native of Dauphine, 
attracted attention in Italy, but when carefully 
tested by scientific men in Padua, his attempts to 
discover buried m.etals failed ; at Florence he was 
detected in an endeavour to find out, by night, 
what had been secreted to test his powers on the 
morrow. Vincent Amoretti was an Italian, who 
underwent peculiar sensations when brought in 
proximity to water, coal, and salt ; he was skilful 
in the use of the rod, but made no public exhibi- 
tion of his powers. 

The rod is still employed, I have heard it as- 
serted, by Cornish miners, but I have never been 
able to ascertain that such is really the case. The 
mining captains whom I have questioned, invari- 
ably repudiated all knowledge of its use. 

In Wiltshire, however, it is still employed for 
the purpose of detecting water. In the 23nd 
volume of the Quarterly Review (p. 273, note) will 
be found a very strongly-attested case, commu- 


The Divining Rod 

fllcated to the writer of an article on " Populj 
Mythology," by a friend in Norfolk. A certi 

Lady N is there stated to have convinced 

Hutton of her possession of this mysterious gii 
and to have by means of it indicated to him tl 
existence of a spring of water in one of his fielc 
adjoining the Woolwich College, which, in col 
sequence of this discovery, he was enabled to s( 
to the College at a higher price. This power of hei 

Lady N repeatedly exhibited before credibj 

witnesses, and the Quarterly Reviewer of that d; 
(1820) held the fact incontrovertible. De Quincej 
in two passages ^ affirms that he has frequently 
seen the process applied with success, and declare 
that, whatever science or scepticism may say, moj 
of the tea-kettles in the Vale of Wrington, Noi 
Somersetshire, are filled by rabdomancy. In 
ill-watered province this would make its professoi 
an important class, though, as De Quincey allo^ 
the affinity of their local appellation "jowsers 
with the slang verb " to chouse," would argue soi 
suspicion of the soundness of their pretensions. 
the last number of the " Monthly Packet " (Marcl 
1857), a curious story is told how the guests at at 

De Quincey's Collected Works, i. p. 84 ; iii. p. 222. 

The Divmiiig Rod 89 

old Kentish house beset a fellow-guest, said to 
possess this power, with questions how they were 
to hold the two forks of the hazel wand. He pro- 
ceeded to show them with the double stalk of a 
couple of twin cherries, the party being at dessert, 
when, lo ! to the astonishment of himself and his 
questioners, the united portion curled quite over 
his hand. The master of the house alone knew 
that under his dining-room floor existed a strong 
spring of water ^ 

The following extract from a letter I have just 
received will show that it is still in vogue on the 
Continent : — 

" I believe the use of the divining rod for dis- 
covering springs of water has by no means been 
confined to Mediaeval times, for I was personally 
acquainted with a lady, now deceased, who has 
successfully practised with it in this way. She was 
a very clever and accomplished woman ; Scotch by 
birth and education ; by no means credulous ; 
possibly a little imaginative, for she wrote not 
unsuccessfully ; and of a remarkably open and 

straightforward disposition. Captain C y her 

husband, had a large estate in Holstein, near 

^ Quarterly Review, No. 244, p. 441. 


The Divining Rod 

Lubeck, supporting a considerable population, an^ 
whether for the wants of the people or for th 
improvement of the land, it now and then hai 
pened that an additional well was needed. 

" On one of these occasions a man was sent fc 
who made a regular profession of finding water bj 
the divining rod ; there happened to be a lar^ 
party staying at the house, and the whole compani 
turned out to see the fun. The rod gave indicz 
tions in the usual way, and water was ultimately 

found at the spot. Mrs. C , utterly sceptical," 

took the rod into her own hands to make experi^ 
ment, believing that she would prove the man a| 
impostor, and she said afterwards she was nevej 
more frightened in her life than when it began t^ 
move, on her walking over the spring. Seven 
other gentlemen and ladies tried it, but it was quit^ 
inactive in their hands. ' Well,' said the host t( 
his wife, ' we shall have no occasion to send for th4 
man again, as you are such an adept' 

" Some months after this, water was wanted 
another part of the estate, and it occurred to Mrs 

C that she would use the rod again. Aft( 

some trials, it again gave decided indicat'.ons, am 
a well was begun and carried down a verv con- 
siderable depth. 

At last she began to shrink fro 


Tlie Divining Rod 91 

incurring more expense, but the labourers had 
implicit faith, and begged to be allowed to per- 
severe. Very soon the water burst up with such 
force that the men escaped with difficulty ; and 
this proved afterwards the most unfailing spring 
for miles round. 

" You will take the above for what it is worth ; 
the facts I have given are undoubtedly true, what- 
ever conclusions may be drawn from them. I do 
not propose that you should print my narrative, 
but I think in these cases personal testimony, even 
indirect, is more useful in forming one's opinion 
than a hundred old volumes. I did not hear it 

from Mrs. C 's own lips, but I was sufficiently 

acquainted with her to form a very tolerable 
estimate of her character, and my wife, who has 
known her intimately from her own childhood, was 
in her younger days often staying with her for 
months together." 

I remember having been much perplexed by 
reading a series of experiments made with a pen- 
dulous ring over metals, by a Mr. Mayo ; he ascer- 
tained that it oscillated in various directions under 
peculiar circumstances, when suspended by a thread 
over the ball of the thumb. I instituted a series of 
experiments, and was surprised to find the ring 


The Divining- Rod 

vibrate in an unaccountable manner in opposite 
directions over different metals. On consideratioi 
I closed my eyes whilst the ring was oscillating 
over gold, and on opening them I found that it 
had become stationary. I got a friend to change 
the metals whilst I was blindfolded — the ring n< 
longer vibrated. I was thus enabled to judge oi 
the involuntary action of muscles, quite sufficient 
to have deceived an eminent medical man lik< 
Mr. Mayo, and to have perplexed me till I suc- 
ceeded in solving the mystery'. 

"^ A similar series of experiments was undertaken, as 
learned afterwards, by M. Chevreuil in Paris, with similar] 

Cfie Seben Sleepers of Cl^pjegus 

/^NE of the most picturesque myths of ancient 
^-^ days, is that which forms the subject of this 
article. It is thus told by Jacques de Voragine in 
his " Legenda Aurea :" — 

"The seven sleepers were natives of Ephesus. 
The Emperor Decius, who persecuted the Chris- 
tians, having come to Ephesus, ordered the erection 
of temples in the city, that all might come and 
sacrifice before him, and he commanded that the 
Christians should be sought out and given their 
choice, either to worship the idols, or to die. So 
great was the consternation in the city, that the 
friend denounced his friend, the father his son, and 
the son his father. 

"Now there were in Ephesus seven Christians, 
Maximian, Malchus, Marcian, Dionysius, John, 
Serapion, and Constantine by name. These re- 


The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 

fused to sacrifice to the idols, and remained 
their houses praying and fasting. They wei 
accused before Decius, and they confessed themj 
selves to be Christians. However, the empero^ 
gave them a little time to consider what line the] 
would adopt. They took advantage of this re 
prieve to dispense their goods among the poor, anc 
then they retired, all seven, to Mount Celion, whei 
they determined to conceal themselves. 

" One of their number, Malchus, in the disguij 
of a physician, went to the town to obtain victuals 
Decius, who had been absent from Ephesus for 
little while, returned, and gave orders for the sev( 
to be sought. Malchus, having escaped from thj 
town, fled, full of fear, to his comraties, and tol^ 
them of the emperor's fury. They were mu( 
alarmed ; and Malchus handed them the loaves 
had bought, bidding them eat, that, fortified by tl 
food, they might have courage in the time of trij 
They ate, and then, as they sat weeping and spea] 
ing to one another, by the will of God they fe 

"The Pagans sought every where, but could n< 
find them, and Decius was greatly irritated at thej 
escape. He had their parents brought before tiii 
and threatened them with death if they did not 

The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 95 

reveal the place of concealment ; but they could 
only answer that the seven young men had distri- 
buted their goods to the poor, and that they were 
quite ignorant as to their whereabouts. 

" Decius, thinking it possible that they might be 
hiding in a cavern, blocked up the mouth with 
stones, that they might perish of hunger. 

" Three hundred and sixty years passed, and in 
the thirtieth year of the reign of Theodosius, there 
broke forth a heresy denying the resurrection of 
the dead 

" Now, it happened that an Ephesian was building 
a stable on the side of Mount Celion, and finding a 
pile of stones handy, he took them for his edifice, 
and thus opened the mouth of the cave. Then the 
seven sleepers awoke, and it was to them as if they 
had slept but a single night. They began to ask 
Malchus what decision Decius had given concerning 

" ' He is going to hunt us down, so as to force 
us to sacrifice to the idols,' was his reply. * God 
knows,' replied Maximian, 'we shall never do 
that' Then exhorting his companions, he urged 
Malchus to go back to the town to buy some more 
bread, and at the same time to obtain fresh infor- 
mation. Malchus took five coins and left the 

96 The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 

cavern. On seeing the stones, he was filled with 
astonishment ; however, he went on towards the 
city ; but what was his bewilderment, on approach- 
ing the gate, to see over it a cross ! He went to 
another gate, and there he beheld the same sacred 
sign ; and so he observed it over each gate of the 
city. He believed that he was suffering from the 
effects of a dream. Then he entered Ephes 
rubbing his eyes, and he walked to a baker's sho; 
He heard people using our Lord's name, and 
was the more perplexed. * Yesterday, no one dar 
pronounce the name of Jesus, and now it is 
every one's lips. Wonderful ! I can hardly believ 
myself to be in Ephesus.* He asked a passer-b 
the name of the city, and on being told it wi 
Ephesus, he was thunderstruck. Now he entered 
a baker's shop, and laid down his money. The 
baker, examining the coin, inquired whether he had 
found a treasure, and began to whisper to some 
others in the shop. The youth, thinking that he 
was discovered, and that they were about to con- 
duct him to the emperor, implored them to let 
him alone, offering to leave loaves and money if he 
might only be suffered to escape. But the shop- 
men, seizing him, said : * Whoever you are, you 
have found a treasure ; show us where it is, that we 


The Seven Sleepers of Ephesiis 97 

may share it with you, and then we will hide you.' 
Malchus was too frightened to answer. So they 
put a rope round his neck, and drew him 
through the streets into the market-place. The 
news soon spread that the young man had dis- 
covered a great treasure, and there was presently a 
vast crowd about him. He stoutly protested his 
innocence. No one recognized him, and his eyes 
ranging over the faces which surrounded him, could 
not see one which he had known, or which was in 
the slightest degree familiar to him. 

" S. Martin, the bishop, and Antipater, the gover- 
nor, having heard of the excitement, ordered the 
young man to be brought before them, along with 
the bakers. 

" The bishop and the governor asked him where 
he had found the treasure, and he replied that he 
had found none, but that the i^-^ coins were from 
his own purse. He was next asked whence he 
came. He replied that he was a native of Ephesus, 
* if this be Ephesus.' 

" * Send for your relations — your parents, if they 
live here,' ordered the governor. 

" ' They live here certainly,' replied the youth ; 
and he mentioned their names. No such names 
were known in the town. Then the governor 


98 The Seven Sleepers of Epkesus 

exclaimed : ' How dare you say that this money 
belonged to your parents when it dates back three 
hundred and seventy-seven years ^ and is as old as 
the beginning of the reign of Decius, and it is 
utterly unlike our modern coinage ? Do you think 
to impose on the old men and sages of Ephesus ? 
]3elieve me, I shall make you suffer the severities 
of the law unless you show where you made 

"'I implore you,' cried Malchus, 'in the nai 
of God, answer me a few questions, and then I 
answer yours ! Where is the Emperor Decius go|| 

" The bishop answered, ' My son, there is 
emperor of that name ; he who was thus call 
died long ago.* 

" Malchus replied, 'AH I hear perplexes me md! 
and more. Follow me, and I will show you m| 
comrades who fled with me into a cave of Mount 
Celion, only yesterday, to escape the cruelty of 
Decius. I will lead you to them.' 

" The bishop turned to the governor. ' The hand 

of God is here,' he said. Then they followed, and 

a great crowd after them. And Malchus entered 

first into the cavern to his companions, and the 

* This calculation is sadly inaccurate. 

The Sevejt Sleepers of Ephesus 9*J 

bishop after him. . . . And there they saw the 
martyrs seated in the cave, with their faces fresh 
and blooming as roses ; so all fell down and glori- 
fied God. The bishop and the governor sent 
notice to Theodosius, and he hurried to Ephesus. 
All the inhabitants met him and conducted him to 
the cavern. As soon as the saints beheld the 
emperor, their faces shone like the sun, and the 
emperor gave thanks unto God, and embraced 
them, and said, * I see you, as though I saw the 
Saviour restoring Lazarus.' Maximian* repHed, 
* Believe us ! for the faith's sake, God has resusci- 
tated us before the great resurrection day, in order 
that you may believe firmly in the resurrection of 
the dead. For as the child is in its mother's womb 
living and not suffering, so have we lived without 
suffering, fast asleep.' And having thus spoken, 
they bowed their heads, and their souls returned to 
their Maker. The emperor, rising, bent over them 
and embraced them weeping. He gave orders for 
golden reliquaries to be made, but that night they 
appeared to him in a dream, and said that hitherto 
they had slept in the earth, and that in the earth they 
desired to sleep on till God should raise them again." 
Such is the beautiful story. It seems to have 
travelled to us from the East. Jacobus Sarugiensis 
H 1 

100 The Seven Sleepers of Ephesiis 

a Mesopotamian bishop, in the fifth or sixth cen- 
tury, is said to have been the first to commit it to 
writing. Gregory of Tours (De Glor. Mart. i. 9) 
was perhaps the first to introduce it to Europe. 
Dionysius of Antioch (ninth century) told the story 
in Syrian, and Photius of Constantinople repro- 
duced it, with the remark that Mahomet ha^H 
adopted it into the Koran. Metaphrastus alludes ' 
to it as well ; in the tenth century Eutychius iq^ 
serted it in his annals of Arabia ; it is found in 
Coptic and the Maronite books, and several eai 
historians, as Paulus Diaconus, Nicephorus, 
have inserted it in their works. 

William of Malmesburj'- tells us a strange stoi 
concerning these sleepers. He says, that Kii 
Edward the Confessor sat, during the East 
festival, wearing his royal crown at dinner, in 
palace of Westminster, surrounded by his bishoj 
and nobles. During the banquet the king, instej 
of indulging in meat and drink, mused upon divine 
things, and sat long immersed in thought. Sud- 
denly, to the astonishment of all present, he burst 
out laughing. After dinner, when he retired to his 
bedchamber to divest himself of his robes, three of 
his nobles, Earl Harold, who was afterwards king, 
and an abbot and a bishop, followed him, and 

The Seven Sleepers of EpJiesus 101 

asked the reason of his rare mirth. " I saw," said 
the pious monarch, "things most wonderful to 
behold, and therefore did I not laugh without a 
reason." They entreated him to explain ; and 
after musing for a while, he informed them that 
the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, who had been 
slumbering two hundred years in a cavern of 
Mount Celion, lying always on their right sides, 
had of a sudden, turned themselves over on their 
left sides ; that by heavenly favour he had seen 
them thus turn themselves, and at the sight he had 
been constrained to laugh. And as Harold and 
the abbot and bishop marvelled at his words, the 
king related to them the story of the Seven 
Sleepers, with the shape and proportion of their 
several bodies, which wonderful things no man had 
as yet committed to writing ; nay, he spake of the 
Ephesian sleepers, as though he had always dwelt 
with them. Earl Harold, on hearing this, got 
ready a knight, a clerk and a monk, who were 
forthwith sent to the emperor at Constantinople, 
with letters and presents from King Edward. By 
the emperor these . messengers were forwarded to 
Ephesus with letters to the Bishop, commanding 
him to admit the three Englishmen into the cavern 
of the sleepers. And, lo ! it fell out even as the 

102 The Seven Sleepers of Ephesiis 

king had seen in vision. For the Ephesians declared 
that they knew from their forefathers that the 
Seven had ever lain on their right sides ; but on 
the entry of the Englishmen into the cave, they 
were all found lying on their left sides. And this 
was a warning of the miseries which were to befall 
Christendom through the inroads of the Saracens, 
Turks and Tartars For whenever sorrow threatei 
the Sleepers turn on their sides. 

A poem on the Seven Sleepers was compos 
by a trouvere named Chardri, and is mention* 
by M. Fr. Michel in his " Rapports au Ministre 
rinstruction Public ;" a German poem on the sai 
subject, of the thirteenth century, in 935 verses, 
been published by M. Karajan ; and the Spani^ 
poet, Augustin Morreto, composed a drama on 
entitled "Los Siete Durmientes," which is insert< 
in the 19th volume of the rare work, "Comedi^ 
Nuevas Escogidas de los Mejores Ingenios ;" laa 
and not least, it has formed the subject of a poem" 
by the late Dr. Neale. 

Mahomet has somewhat improved on the story. 
He has made the Sleepers prophecy his coming, 
and he has given them a dog named Kratim, or 
Kratimer, which sleeps with them, and which is 
endowed with the gift of prophecy. 

The Seven Sleepers of Ephcsus 103 

As a special favour this dog is to be one of the 
ten animals to be admitted into his paradise, the 
others being Jonah's whale, Solomon's ant, Ish- 
mael's ram, Abraham's calf, the Queen of Sheba's 
ass, the prophet Salech's camel, Moses' ox, Belkis' 
cuckoo, and Mahomet's ass. 

It was perhaps too much for the Seven Sleepers 
to ask, that their bodies should be left to rest in 
earth. In ages when saintly relics were valued 
above gold and precious stones, their request was 
sure to be shelved ; and so we find that their 
remains were conveyed to Marseilles in a large 
stone sarcophagus, which is still exhibited in S. 
Victor's Church. In the Musaeum Victorium at 
Rome is a curious and ancient representation of 
them in a cement of sulphur and plaster. Their 
names are engraved beside them, together with 
certain attributes. Near Constantine and John are 
two clubs, near Maximian a knotty club, near 
Malchus and Martinian two axes, near Serapion a 
burning torch, and near Danesius or Dionysius a 
great nail, such as those spoken of by Horace 
(Lib. I, Od. 3) and S. Paulinus (Nat. 9, or Carm. 24) 
as having been used for torture. 

In this group of figures, the seven are repre- 
sented as young, without beards, and indeed in 



104 The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 

ancient martyrologles they are frequently call 

It has been inferred from this curious plast 
representation, that the seven may have suffered 
under Decius, A.D. 250, and have been buried 
the afore-mentioned cave ; whilst the discovery a: 
translation of their relics under Theodosius, in 479^ 
may have given rise to the fable. And this I thi 
probable enough. The story of long sleepers a 
the number seven connected with it is anci^ 
enough, and dates from heathen mythology. 

Like many another ancient myth, it was 1 
hold of by Christian hands and baptized. 

Pliny relates the story of Epimenides the e 
poet, who, when tending his sheep one hot d 
wearied and oppressed with slumber, retrea 
into a cave, where he fell asleep. After fifty- se 
years he awoke, and found every thing chang 
His brother, whom he had left a stripling, 
now a hoary man. 

Epimenides was reckoned one of the seven sages 
by those who exclude Periander. He flourished 
in the time of Solon. After his death, at the age 
of two hundred and eighty-nine, he was reven 
as a God, and honoured especially by the At 

The Seven Sleepers of Ephesits 105 

This story is a version of the older legend of the 
perpetual sleep of the shepherd Endymion, who 
was thus preserved in unfading youth and beauty 
by Jupiter. 

According to an Arabic legend, S. George thrice 
rose from his grave, and was thrice slain. 

In Scandinavian mythology we have Siegfrid or 
Sigurd thus resting, and awaiting his call to come 
forth and fight. Charlemagne sleeps in the Oden- 
berg in Hess, or in the Untersberg near Salzburg, 
seated on his throne, with his crown on his head 
and his sword at his side, waiting till the times of 
Antichrist are fulfilled, when he will wake and 
burst forth to avenge the blood of the saints. 
Ogier the Dane, or Olger Dansk, will in like 
manner shake off his slumber and come forth from 
the dream-land of Avallon to avenge the right — oh 
that he had shown himself in the Schleswig- 
Holstein war ! 

Well do I remember, as a child, contemplating 
with wondering awe the great Kyffhauserberg in 
Thuringia, for therein, I was told, slept Frederic 
Barbarossa and his six knights. A shepherd once 
penetrated into the heart of the mountain by a 
cave, and discovered therein a hall where sat the 
Emperor at a stone table, and his red beard had 

106 The Seven Sleepers of Ephestis 

grown through the slab. At the tread of the 
shepherd, Frederic awoke from his slumber, and 
asked, "Do the ravens still fly over the moun- 
tains ?" 

"Sire! they do." 

" Then we must sleep another hundred years." 

But when his beard has wound itself thrice 
round the table, then will the Emperor awake wit 
his knights, and rush forth to release Germany froi 
its bondage, and exalt it to the first place amon| 
the kingdoms of Europe. 

In Switzerland slumber three Tells at Riitlj 
near the Vierwaldstatter-see, waiting for the houi 
of their country's direst need. A shepherd crept 
into the cave where they rest. The third Tell rose 
and asked the time. " Noon," replied the shepherc 
lad. " The time is not yet come," said Tell, an< 
lay down again. 

In Scotland, beneath the Eildon hills, sleeps 
Thomas of Erceldoune ; the murdered French whc 
fell in the Sicilian Vespers at Palermo, are alsc 
slumbering till the time is come when they maj 
wake to avenge themselves. When Constantinople 
fell into the hands of the Turks, a priest was 
celebrating the sacred mysteries at the great silver 
altar of S. Sophia. The celebrant cried to God to 

The Seve7i Sleepers of Ephesus 107 

protect the sacred host from profanation. Then 
the wall opened, and he entered, bearing the Blessed 
Sacrament. It closed on him, and there he is 
sleeping with his head bowed before the Body of 
Our Lord, waiting till the Turk is cast out of 
Constantinople, and S. Sophia is released from its 
profanation. God speed the time ! 

In Bohemia sleep three miners deep in the heart 
of the Kuttenberg. In North America, Ripp Van 
Winkle passed twenty years slumbering in the 
Katskill mountains. In Spain, Boabdil el Chico, 
the last Arab king of Granada, is said to lie spell- 
bound in the mountains close to the Alhambra. 
In Arabia, the prophet Elijah waits till he is called 
forth in the days of Antichrist. In Ireland, Brian 
Boroimhe slumbers, waiting till a Fenian insurrec- 
tion promising action and not talk summons him 
to his country's aid. In Wales, the legend of 
Arthur still dreaming through a long sleep in 
Avillon, has not died out. In Servia, Knez Lazar, 
who fell in battle against the Turks in the fight of 
Kossowa, in 1389, is expected to re-appear one day. 
A similar hope of the return of James IV. lasted 
for more than a hundred years after Flodden was 
fought. In Portugal it is believed that Sebas- 
tian, the chivalrous young monarch who did his 


108 The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 

best to ruin his country by his rash invasion ol 
Morocco, is sleeping somewhere, but he will wak 
again to be his country's deliverer in the hour o 
need. Olaf Tryggvason is waiting a similar occa- 
sion in Norway. Even Napoleon Bonaparte is 
believed among some of the French peasantry to 
be sleeping on in a like manner. j^H 

S. Hippolytus relates that S. John the Divine i^" 
slumbering at Ephesus, and Sir John Mandeville 
relates the circumstances as follows : " Fro 
Pathmos men gone unto Ephesim, a fair citee an 
nyghe to the see. And there dyede Seynte John 
and was buryed behynde the highe Awtiere, in 
toumbe. And there is a faire chirche. F 
Christene mene weren wont to holden that pla 
alweyes. And in the tombe of Seynt John 
noughte but manna, that is clept Aungeles meti 
For his body was translated into Paradys. An 
Turkes holden now alle that place and tb 
citee and the Chirche. And all Asie the lesse 
yclept Turkye. And ye shalle undrestond, that 
Seynt Johne bid make his grave there in his Lyf, 
and leyd himself there-inne all quyk. And there- 
fore somme men seyn, that he dyed noughte, but 
that he resteth there till the Day of Doom. And 
forsoothe there is a gret marveule : For men may 


The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 109 

see there the erthe of the tombe apertly many 
tymes steren and moven, as there weren quykke 
thinges undre." The connexion of this legend of 
S. John with Ephesus may have had something to 
do with turning the seven martyrs of that city into 
seven sleepers. 

The annals of Iceland relate that in 1403, a Finn 
of the name of Fethmingr, living in Halogaland, in 
the North of Norway, happening to enter a cave, 
fell asleep, and woke not for three whole years, 
lying with his bow and arrows at his side, un- 
touched by bird or beast. 

There certainly are authentic accounts of persons 
having slept for an extraordinary length of time, 
but I shall not mention any, as I believe the legend 
we are considering, not to have been an exaggera- 
tion of facts, but a Christianized myth of paganism. 
The fact of the number seven being so prominent 
in many of the tales, seems to lead to this con- 
clusion. Barbarossa changes his position every 
seven years. Charlemagne starts in his chair at 
similar intervals. Olger Dansk stamps his iron 
mace on the floor once every seven years. Olaf 
Redbeard in Sweden uncloses his eyes at precisely 
the same distances of time. 

I believe that the mythological core of this 

110 The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 

picturesque legend is the repose of the earth 
through the seven winter months. In the North 
Frederic and Charlemagne certainly replace Odin. 

The German and Scandinavian still heathen 
legends represent the heroes as about to issue 
forth for the defence of Fatherland in the hour of 
direst need. The converted and Christianized tale 
brings the martyr youths forth in the hour when 
heresy is afflicting the Church, that they ma; 
destroy the heresy by their witness to the truth 
the Resurrection. 

If there is something majestic in the heathei 
myth, there is singular grace and beauty in th 
Christian tale, teaching as it does such a gloriou 
doctrine ; but it is surpassed in delicacy by t 
modern form which the same myth has as- 
sumed — a form which is a real transformation, 
leaving the doctrine taught the same. It has 
been made into a romance by Hoffman, and is 
versified by Trinius. I may perhaps be allowed 
to translate with some freedom the poem of the 
latter :— 

In an ancient shaft of Falum, 

Year by year a body lay, 
God-preserved, as though a treasure, 

Kept unto the waking day. 


The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus 111 

Not the turmoil, nor the passions, 

Of the busy world o'erhead, 
Sounds of war, or peace rejoicings, 

Could disturb the placid dead. 

Once a youthful miner, whistling, 

Hew'd the chamber, now his tomb, 
Crash ! the rocky fragments tumbled. 

Closed him in abysmal gloom. 

Sixty years pass'd by, ere miners 

Toiling, hundred fathoms deep, 
Broke upon the shaft where rested 

That poor miner in his sleep. 

As the gold-grains lie untarnish'd 

In the dingy soil and sand. 
Till they gleam and flicker, stainless, 

In the digger's sifting hand ; 

As the gem in virgin brilliance 

Rests, till usher'd into day ; — 
So uninjured, uncorrupted. 

Fresh and fair the body lay. 

And the miners bore it upward, 

Laid it in the yellow sun, 
Up, from out the neighb'ring houses. 

Fast the curious peasants run. 

"Who is he ?" with eyes they question . 

"Who is he ?" they ask aloud : 
Hush ! a wizen'd hag comes hobbhng, 

Panting through the wond'ring crowd 

112 The Seven Sleepers of Ep /testis 

Oh ! the cry — half joy, half sorrow — 
As she flings her at his side, 

" John ! the sweetheart of my girlhood. 
Here am I, am I, thy bride. 

" Time on thee has left no traces. 
Death from wear has shielded thee ; 

I am aged, worn, and wasted. 
Oh ! what life has done to me ! " 

Then, bis smooth unfurrow'd forehead 
Kiss'd that ancient wither'd crone ; 

And the Death which had divided, 
Now united them in one. 

51HiHiam Cell 

T SUPPOSE that most people regard the story 
-"- of Tell and the apple as an historical event.; 
and with corresponding interest, when they under- 
take the regular Swiss round, visit the market- 
place of Altorf, where is pointed out the site of the 
lime-tree to which Tell's child v/as bound, and 
contemplate the plaster statue which is asserted 
to mark the spot where Tell stood to take aim. 
Once, moreover, there stood another monument 
erected near Lucerne in commemoration of this 
event, a wooden obelisk, painted to look like 
granite, surmounted by a rosy-cheeked apple 
transfixed by a golden arrow. This gingerbread 
memorial of bad taste has perished, struck by 
lightning. We shall in the following pages de- 
molish the very story which that erection was 
intended to commemorate. 


114 William Tell 

It is one of the painful duties of the antiquarian 
to dispel many a popular belief, and to probe the 
groundlessness of many a historical statement. 
The antiquarian is sometimes disposed to ask with 
Pilate, " What is truth ? " when he finds historical 
facts crumbling beneath his touch into mythological 
fables ; and he soon learns to doubt and question 
the most emphatic declarations of, and claims to, 

Sir Walter Raleigh, in his prison, was composii 
the second volume of his history of the worl 
Leaning on the sill of his window, he meditated 
the duties of the historian to mankind, when su< 
denly his attention was attracted by a disturbance 
in the court-yard before his cell. He saw one man 
strike another whom he supposed by his dress to 
be an officer ; the latter at once drew his sword 
and ran the former through the body. The 
wounded man felled his adversary with a stick, 
and then sank upon the pavement. At this junc- 
ture the guard came up and carried off the officer 
insensible, and then the corpse of the man who had 
been run through. 

Next day Raleigh was visited by an intimate 
friend, to whom he related the circumstances of 
the quarrel and its issue. To his astonishment, 

William Tell 115 

his friend unhesitatingly declared that the prisoner 
had mistaken the whole series of incidents which 
had passed before his eyes. 

The supposed officer was not an officer at all, 
but the servant of a foreign ambassador ; it was he 
who had dealt the first blow ; he had not drawn 
his sword, but the other had snatched it from his 
side, and had run him through the body before 
any one could interfere ; whereupon a stranger 
from among the crowd knocked the murderer down 
with his stick, and some of the foreigners belonging 
to the ambassador's retinue carried off the corpse. 
The friend of Raleigh added that government haa 
ordered the arrest and immediate trial of the mur- 
derer, as the man assassinated was one of the 
principal servants of the Spanish ambassador. 

" Excuse me," said Raleigh, " but I cannot have 
been deceived as you suppose, for I was eye-witness 
to the events which took place under my own 
window, and the man fell there on that spot 
where you see a paving-stone standing up above 
the rest." 

" My dear Raleigh," replied his friend, " I was 
sitting on that stone when the fray took place, 
and I received this slight scratch on my cheek in 
snatching the sword from the murderer, and upon 

I 2 

116 William Tell 

my word of honour, you have been deceived upon 
every particular." 

Sir Walter, when alone, took up the second 
volume of his history, which was in MS., and con- 
templating it, thought — "If I cannot believe my 
own eyes, how can I be assured of the truth of a 
tithe of the events which happened ages before I 
was born 1 " and he flung the manuscript into the 

Now I think that I can show that the story 
William Tell and the apple is as fabulous as — wh^ 
shall I say } — many another historical event 

It is almost too well known to need repetition. 

In the year 1307, Gessler, Vogt of the Emperc 
Albert of Hapsburg, set a hat on a pole, as symbol 
of imperial power, and ordered every one who 
passed by to do obeisance towards it. A moun- 
taineer of the name of Tell boldly traversed the 
space before it without saluting the abhorred 
symbol. By Gessler's command he was at once 
seized and brought before him. As Tell was 
known to be an expert archer, he was ordered, by 

* This anecdote is taken from the Journal de Paris, May, 
1787; which derived it from "Letters on Literature, by 
Robert Heron" (i. e. John Pinkerton, F.A.S.), 1785. But 
whence did Pinkerton obtain it ? 

William Tell 117 

way of punishment, to shoot an apple off the head 
of his own son. Finding remonstrance vain, he 
submitted. The apple was placed on the child's 
head. Tell bent his bow, the arrow sped, and apple 
and arrow fell together to the ground. But the 
Vogt noticed that Tell, before shooting, had stuck 
another arrow into his belt, and he inquired the 

" It was for you," replied the sturdy archer. 
"Had I shot my child, know that it would not 
have missed your heart." 

This event, observe, took place in the beginning 
of the fourteenth century. But Saxo Gramma- 
ticus, a Danish writer of the twelfth century, tells 
the story of a hero of his own country, who lived 
in the tenth century. He relates the incident in 
horrible style as follows : — 

" Nor ought what follows to be enveloped in 
silence. Toki, who had for some time been in the 
king's service, had by his deeds, surpassing those of 
his comrades, made enemies of his virtues. One 
day, when he had drunk too much, he boasted to 
those who sat at table with him, that his 'skill in 
archery was such, that with the first shot of an 
arrow he could hit the smallest apple set on the 
top of a stick at a considerable distance. His 

118 William Tell 

detractors, hearing this, lost no time in conveying 
what he had said to the king (Harald Bluetooth). 
But the wickedness of this monarch soon trans- 
formed the confidence of the father to the jeopardy 
of the son, for he ordered the dearest pledge of his 
life to stand in place of the stick, from whom, if 
the utterer of the boast did not at his first shot 
strike down the apple, he should with his head pay 
the penalty of having made an idle boast. The 
command of the king urged the soldier to do this 
which was so much more than he had undertak 
the detracting artifices of the others having tab 
advantage of words spoken when he was hard 
sober. As soon as the boy was led forth, Toki 
carefully admonished him to receive the whir of 
the arrow as calmly as possible, with attentive 
ears, and without moving his head, lest by a slight 
motion of the body he should frustrate the expe- 
rience of his well-tried skill. He also made him 
stand with his back towards him, lest he should be 
frightened at the sight of the arrow. Then he 
drew three arrows from his quiver, and the very 
first he shot struck the proposed mark. Toki 
being asked by the king why he had taken so 
many more arrows out of his quiver, when he. 
was to make but one trial with his bow ; ' That I 



William Tell 119 

might avenge on thee,' he replied, 'the error of 
the first, by the points of the others, lest my inno- 
cence might happen to be afflicted, and thy in- 
justice go unpunished.'" 

The same incident is told of Egil, brother of the 
mythical Velundr, in the Saga of Thidrik. 

In Norwegian history also it appears with varia- 
tions again and again. It is told of King Olaf the 
Saint (d. 1030), that, desiring the conversion of a 
brave heathen named Eindridi, he competed with 
him in various athletic sports ; he swam with him, 
wrestled, and then shot with him. The king dared 
Eindridi to strike a writing-tablet from off his son's 
head with an arrow. Eindridi prepared to attempt 
the difficult shot The king bade two men bind 
the eyes of the child and hold the napkin, so that 
he might not move when he heard the whistle of 
the arrow. The king aimed first, and the arrow 
grazed the lad's head. Eindridi then prepared to 
shoot, but the mother of the boy interfered, and 
persuaded the king to abandon this dangerous test 
of skill. In this version also, Eindridi is prepared 
to revenge himself on the king, should the child be 

But a closer approximation still to the Tell myth 
is found in the life of Hemingr, another Norse 

120 William Tell 

archer who was challenged by King Harald, 
Sigurd's son (d. 1066). The story is thus told : — 

" The island was densely overgrown with wood, 
and the people went into the forest. The king 
took a spear and set it with its point in the soil, 
then he laid an arrow on the string and shot up 
into the air. The arrow turned in the air and came 
down upon the spear-shaft and stood up in it. 
Hemingr took another arrow and shot up ; his w< 
lost to sight for some while, but it came back 
pierced the nick of the king's arrow. .... The 
the king took a knife and stuck it into an oak ; 
next drew his bow and planted an arrow in 
haft of the knife. Thereupon Hemingr took 
arrows. The king stood by him and said, ' They 
are all inlaid with gold, you are a capital workman.' 
Hemingr answered, * They are not my manufacture, 
but are presents.' He shot, and his arrow cleft 
the haft, and the point entered the socket of the 

" * We must have a keener contest,' said the king, 
taking an arrow and flushing with anger ; then he 
laid the arrow on the string and drew his bow to 
the farthest, so that the horns were nearly brought 
to meet. Away flashed the arrow, and pierced a 
tender twig. All said that this was a most asto- 

William Tell 12] 

nishing feat of dexterity. But Hemingr shot from 
a greater distance, and split a hazel nut All were 
astonished to see this. Then said the king, * Take 
a nut and set it on the head of your brother Bjorn, 
and aim at it from precisely the same distance. If 
you miss the mark, then your life goes.' 

" Hemingr answered, * Sire, my life is at your 
disposal, but I will not adventure that shot' Then 
out spake Bjorn, * Shoot, brother, rather than die 
yourself Hemingr said, * Have you the pluck to 
stand quite still without shrinking.-*' *I will do 
my best,' said Bjorn. 'Then let the king stand 
by,' said Hemingr, 'and let him see whether I touch 
the nut.' 

"The king agreed, and badeOddrUfeig's son stand 
by Bjorn, and see that the shot was fair. Hemingr 
then went to the spot fixed for him by the king, 
and signed himself with the cross, saying, * God be 
my witness that I had rather die myself than 
injure my brother Bjorn ; let all the blame rest 
on King Harald.' 

"Then Hemingr flung his spear. The spear 
went straight to the mark, and passed between the 
nut and the crown of the lad, who was not in the 
least injured. It flew further, and stopped not till 
it fell. 


William Tell 

" Then the king came up and asked Oddr whal 
he thought about the shot." 

Years after, this risk was revenged upon th( 
hard-hearted monarch. In the battle of Stamford- 
bridge an arrow from a skilled archer penetrated the 
windpipe of the king, and it is supposed to have spedj 
observes the Saga writer, from the bow of HemingrJ 
then in the service of the English monarch. 

The story is related somewhat differently in th( 
Faroe Isles, and is told of Geyti, Aslak's son. Th< 
same Harald asks his men if they know who is his 
match in strength. " Yes," they reply, " there is 
peasant's son in the uplands, Geyti, son of AslakJ 
who is the strongest of men." Forth goes the kingj 
and at last rides up to the house of Aslak. " Anc 
where is your youngest son V 

" Alas ! alas ! he lies under the green sod oi 
Kolrin kirkgarth." " Come, then, and show m( 
his corpse, old man, that I may judge whether h( 
was as stout of limb as men say." 

The father puts the king off with the excuse that 
among so many dead it would be hard to find hi< 
boy. So the king rides away over the heath. H( 
meets a stately man returning from the chase, witl 
a bow over his shoulder. "And who art thoujj 
friend?" "Geyti, Aslak's son." The dead man,! 

William Tell \16 

in short, alive and well. The king tells him he has 
heard of his prowess, and is come to match his 
strength with him. So Geyti and the king try a 

The king swims well, but Geyti swims better, 
and in the end gives the monarch such a ducking, 
that he is borne to his house devoid of sense and 
motion. Harald swallows his anger, as he had 
swallowed the water, and bids Geyti shoot a hazel 
nut from off his brother's head. Aslak's son con- 
sents, and invites the king into the forest to witness 
his dexterity. 

" On the string the shaft he laid. 
And God hath heard his prayer ; 
He shot the Httle nut away, 
Nor hurt the lad a hair." 

Next day the king sends for the skilful bowman : 

" List thee, Geyti, Aslak's son, 
And truly tell to me, 
Wherefore hadst thou arrows twain 
In the wood yestreen with thee ?" 

The bowman replies : 

" Therefore had I arrows twain 
Yestreen in the wood with me, 
Had I but hurt my brother dear, 
The other had pierced thee^" 

' Oxonian in Iceland, p. 15. 

124 William Tell 

A very similar tale is told also in the celebrated 
Malleus Maleficarum of a man named Puncher, 
with this difference, that a coin is placed on the 
lad's head instead of an apple or a nut. The 
person who had dared Puncher to the test of skill, 
inquires the use of the second arrow in his belt, and 
receives the usual answer, that if the first arrow 
had missed the coin, the second would have trans- 
fixed a certain heart which was destitute of natural 

We have, moreover, our English version of the 
same story in the venerable ballad of William of 

The Finn ethnologist Castren obtained the fol- 
lowing tale in the Finnish village of Uhtuwa : — j 

A fight took place between some freebooters and 
the inhabitants of the village of Alajarwi. The 
robbers plundered every house, and carried off 
amongst their captives an old man. As they pro- 
ceeded with their spoils along the strand of the 
lake, a lad of twelve years old appeared from 
among the reeds on the opposite bank, armed with 
a bow, and amply provided with arrows ; he 
threatened to shoot down the captors unless the 
old man, his father, were restored to him. The 
robbers mockingly replied, that the aged man 

William Tell 125 

would be given to him, if he could shoot an apple 
off his head. The boy accepted the challenge, and 
on successfully accomplishing it the surrender of 
the venerable captive was made. 

Farid-Uddin Attar was a Persian dealer in 
perfumes, born in the year 1119. He one day was 
so impressed with the sight of a dervish, that he 
sold his possessions and followed righteousness. 
He composed the poem Mantic Utta'ir, or the 
language of birds. Observe, the Persian Attar 
lived at the same time as the Danish Saxo, and 
long before the birth of Tell. Curiously enough 
we find a trace of the Tell myth in the pages of 
his poem. According to him, however, the king 
shoots the apple from the head of a beloved page, 
and the lad dies from sheer fright, though the 
arrow does not even graze his skin. 

The coincidence of finding so many versions of 
the same story scattered through countries as 
remote as Persia and Iceland, Switzerland and 
Denmark, proves I think that it can in no way be 
regarded as history, but is rather one of the 
numerous household myths common to the whole 
stock of Aryan nations. Probably, some one more 
acquainted with Sanskrit literature than myself, 
and with better access to its unpublished stores of 

120 William Tell 

fable and legend, will some day light on an early 
Indian tale corresponding to that so prevalent 
among other branches of the same family. The 
coincidence of the Tell myth being discovered 
among the Finns is attributable to Russian or 
Swedish influence. I do not regard it as a 
primeval Turanian, but as an Aryan story, which, 
like an erratic block, is found deposited on foreign 
soil far from the mountain whence it was torn. 

Mythologists will, I suppose, consider the mythl 
to represent the manifestation of some natural 
phenomena, and the individuals of the story 
to be impersonifications of natural forces. Most 
primeval stories were thus constructed, and their 
origin is traceable enough. In Thorn-rose, for 
instance, who can fail to see the earth goddess re- 
presented by the sleeping beauty in her long winter- 
slumber, only returning to life when kissed by the 
golden-haired sun-god Phoebus or Baldur .? But the 
Tell myth has not its signification thus painted on 
the surface, and though it is possible that Gessler 
or Harald may be the power of evil and darkness, 
and the bold archer the storm-cloud with his 
arrow of lightning and his iris bow, bent against 
the sun, which is resting like a coin or a golden 
apple on the edge of the horizon, yet we have no 

William Tell 127 

guarantee that such an interpretation is not an 
overstraining of a theory. 

In these pages and elsewhere I have shown how 
some of the ancient myths related by the whole 
Aryan family of nations are reducible to allegori- 
cal explanations of certain well-known natural 
phenomena ; but I must protest against the manner 
in which our German friends fasten rapaciously 
upon every atom of history, sacred and profane, 
and demonstrate all heroes to represent the sun, 
all villains to be the demons of night or winter ; all 
sticks and spears and arrows to be the lightning, 
all cows and sheep and dragons and swans to be 

In a work on the superstition of Werewolves, I 
have entered into this subject with some fulness, 
and am quite prepared to admit the premises upon 
which mythologists construct their theories ; at the 
same time I am not disposed to run to the ex- 
travagant lengths reached by some of the most 
enthusiastic German scholars. A wholesome 
warning to these gentlemen was given some years 
ago by an ingenious French ecclesiastic, who wrote 
the following argument to prove that Napoleon 
Bonaparte was a mythological character. Arch- 
bishop Whately's " Historic Doubts " was grounded 

128 William Tell 

on a totally different line of argument ; I subjoin 
the other, as a curiosity and as a caution. 

Napoleon is, says the writer, an impersonifica- 
tion of the sun. 

1. Between the name Napoleon and Apollo, 
or Apoleon, the god of the sun, there is but 
a trifling difference ; indeed the seeming difference^ 
is lessened, if we take the spelling of his nami 
from the column of the Place Vendome, where 
it stands Neapoleo. But this syllable Ne prefixec 
to the name of the sun-god is of importance ; lik( 
the rest of the name it is of Greek origin, and ij 
vf] or vai^ a particle of affirmation, as though in- 
dicating Napoleon as the very true Apollo, or| 

His other name, Bonaparte, makes this apparent 
connexion between the French hero and the 
luminary of ^the firmament conclusively certain. 
The day has its two parts, the good and luminous 
portion, and that which is bad and dark. To the 
sun belongs the good part, to the moon and stars 
belongs the bad portion. It is therefore natural 
that Apollo or Ne-Apoleon should receive the 
surname of Bonaparte. 

2. Apollo was born in Delos, a Mediterranean 
island ; Napoleon in Corsica, an island in the same 

William Tell 121» 

sea. According to Pausanias, Apollo was an 
Egyptian deity ; and in the mythological history 
of the fabulous Napoleon we find the hero in 
Egypt, regarded by the inhabitants with venera- 
tion, and receiving their homage. 

3. The mother of Napoleon was said to be 
Letitia, which signifies joy, and is an impersonifi- 
cation of the dawn of light dispensing joy and 
gladness to all creation. Letitia is no other than 
the break of day, which in a manner brings the 
sun into the world, and " with rosy fingers opes the 
gates of Day." It is significant that the Greek 
name for the mother of Apollo was Leto. From 
this the Romans made the name Latona which 
they gave to his mother. But LcEto is the unused 
form of the verb Icetor, and signified to inspire joy ; 
it is from this unused form that the substantive 
Letitia is derived. The identity, then, of the mother 
of Napoleon with the Greek Leto and the Latin 
Latona, is established conclusively. 

4. According to the popular story, this son of 
Letitia had three sisters, and was it not the same 
with the Greek deity, who had the three Graces t 

5. The modern Gallic Apollo had four brothers. 
It is impossible not to discern here the anthropo- 
morphosis of the four seasons. But, it will be 


130 William Tell 

objected, the seasons should be females. Here the 
French language interposes ; for in French the 
seasons are masculine, with the exception of autumn, 
upon the gender of which grammarians are un- 
decided, whilst Autumnus in Latin is not more 
feminine than the other seasons. This difficulty is 
therefore trifling, and what follows removes all 
shadow of doubt. 

Of the four brothers of Napoleon, three are Sc 
to have been kings, and these of course are, Sprii 
reigning over the flowers. Summer reigning o^ 
the harvest, Autumn holding sway over the fruil 
And as these three seasons owe all to the powerf 
influence of the Sun, we are told in the popuk 
myth that the three brothers of Napoleon drei 
their authority from him, and received from him 
their kingdoms. But if it be added that, of the 
four brothers of Napoleon, one was not a king, that 
was because he is the impersonification of Winter, 
which has no reign over any thing. If however it 
be asserted, in contradiction, that the winter has an 
empire, he will be given the principality over snows 
and frosts, which, in the dreary season of the year, 
whiten the face of the earth. Well ! the fourth 
brother of Napoleon is thus invested by popular 
tradition, commonly called history, with a vain prin^ 

William Tell 131 

cipality accorded to him iji the decline of the power 
of Napoleon. The principality was that of Canino, 
a name derived from cani, or the whitened hairs 
of a frozen old age, — true emblem of winter. To 
the eyes of poets, the forests covering the hills are 
their hair, and when winter frosts them, they 
represent the snowy locks of a decrepit nature in 
the old age of the year : 

" Cum gelidus crescit canis in montibus humor." 

Consequently the Prince of Canino is an impersoni- 
fication of winter ; — winter whose reign begins 
when the kingdoms of the three fine seasons are 
passed from them, and when the sun is driven 
from his power by the children of the North, as 
the poets call the boreal winds. This is the origin 
of the fabulous invasion of France by the allied 
armies of the North. The story relates that these 
invaders — the northern gales — banished the many- 
coloured flag, and replaced it by a white standard. 
This too is a graceful, but, at the same time, purely 
fabulous account of the Northern winds driving all 
the brilliant colours from the face of the soil, to 
replace them by the snowy sheet. 

6. Napoleon is said to have had two wives. It is 
well known that the classic fable gave two also to 
K 2 


132 Williavi Tell 

Apollo. These two were the moon and the earth. 
Plutarch asserts that the Greeks gave the moon to 
Apollo for wife, whilst the Egyptians attributed to 
him the earth. By the moon he had no posterity, 
but by the other he had one son only, the little 
Horus. This is an Egyptian allegory representing 
the fruits of agriculture produced by the earth ferti- 
lized by the Sun. The pretended son of the fabu- 
lous Napoleon is said to have been born on the 20th 
of March, the season of the spring equinox, wh 
agriculture is assuming its greatest period of activi 

7. Napoleon is said to have released France from 
the devastating scourge which terrorized over the 
country, the hydra of the revolution, as it was 
popularly called. Who cannot see in this a Gallic 
version of the Greek legend of Apollo releasing 
Hellas from the terrible Python } The very name 
revolution, derived from the Latin verb revolvo, 
is indicative of the coils of a serpent hke the 

8. The famous hero of the 19th century had, it 
is asserted, twelve Marshals at the head of his 
armies, and four who were stationary and inactive. 
The twelve first, as may be seen at once, are the- 
signs of the zodiac, marching under the orders of the 
sun Napoleon, and each comm.anding a division of 

Williafn Tell 133 

the innumerable host of stars, which are parted 
into twelve portions, corresponding to the twelve 
signs. As for the four stationary officers, im- 
movable in the midst of general motion, they are 
the cardinal points. 

9. It is currently reported that the chief of these 
brilliant armies, after having gloriously traversed 
the Southern kingdoms, penetrated the North, and 
was there unable to maintain his sway. This too 
represents the course of the Sun, which assumes 
its greatest power in the South, but after the spring 
equinox seeks to reach the North, and after a 
three months' march towards the boreal regions, is 
driven back upon his traces, following the sign of 
Cancer, a sign given to represent the retrogression 
of the sun in that portion of the sphere. It is on 
this that the story of the march of Napoleon towards 
Moscow, and his humbling retreat, is founded. 

10. Finally, the sun rises in the East and sets in 
the Western sea. The poets picture him rising out 
of the waters in the East, and setting in the ocean 
after his twelve hours' reign in the sky. Such is the 
history of Napoleon coming from his Mediterranean 
isle, holding the reins of government for twelve 
years, and finally disappearing in the mysterious 
regions of the great Atlantic. 

HAVING demolished the story of the famoi 
shot of William Tell, I proceed to tl 
destruction of another article of popular belief 

Who that has visited Snowdon has not seen tl 
grave of Llewellyn's faithful hound Gellert, ai 
been told by the guide the touching story of tl 
death of the noble animal ? How can we doubt the 
facts, seeing that the place, Beth-Gellert, is named 
after the dog, and that the grave is still visible? 
But unfortunately for the truth of the legend, its 
pedigree can be traced with the utmost precision. 

The story is as follows : — 

The Welsh Prince Llewellyn had a noble deer- 
hound, Gellert, whom he trusted to watch the cradle 
of his baby son whilst he himself was absent. 

One day, on his return, to his intense horror, he 
beheld the cradle empty and upset, the clothes 

The Dog Gellert 135 

dabbled with blood, and Gellert's mouth dripping 
with gore. Concluding hastily that the hound had 
proved unfaithful, had fallen on the child and 
devoured it, — in a paroxysm of rage the prince 
drew his sword and slew the dog. Next instant 
the cry of the babe from behind the cradle showed 
him that the child was uninjured, and, on looking 
further, Llewellyn discovered the body of a huge 
wolf, which had entered the house to seize and 
devour the child, but which had been kept off and 
killed by the brave dog Gellert. 

In his self-reproach and grief, the prince erected 
a stately monument to Gellert, and called the 
place where he was buried after the poor hound's 

Now, I find in Russia precisely the same story 
told, with just the same appearance of truth, of a 
Czar Piras. In Germany it appears with consider- 
able variations. A man determines on slaying his 
old dog Sultan, and consults with his wife how this 
is to be effected. Sultan overhears the conversa- 
tion, and complains bitterly to the wolf, who 
suggests an ingenious plan by which the master 
may be induced to spare his dog. Next day, 
when the man is going to his work, the wolf 
undertakes to carry off the child from its cradle 

136 The Dog Gellert 

Sultan is to attack him and rescue the infant. The 
plan succeeds admirably, and the dog spends his 
remaining years in comfort. (Grimm, K. M. 48.) 

But there is a story in closer conformity to that 
of Gellert among the French collections of fabliaux 
made by Le Grand d'Aussy and Edelestand du 
Meril. It became popular through the " Gest 
Romanorum," a collection of tales made by th^ 
monks for harmless reading, in the fourteen! 

In the " Gesta " the tale is told as follows : — 
" Folliculus, a knight, was fond of hunting ani 
tournaments. He had an only son, for whoi 
three nurses were provided. Next to this child, 
loved his falcon and his greyhound. It happen( 
one day that he was called to a tournament, whithe 
his wife and domestics went also, leaving the chil^ 
in the cradle, the greyhound lying by him, and the 
falcon on his perch. A serpent that inhabited a 
hole near the castle, taking advantage of the pro- 
found silence that reigned, crept from his habita- 
tion, and advanced towards the cradle to devour 
the child. The falcon perceiving the danger, flut- 
tered with his wings till he awoke the dog, who 
instantly attacked the invader, and after a fierce 
conflict, in which he was sorely wounded, killed 

The Doo; Gellert 137 


him. He then lay down on the ground to lick and 
heal his wounds. When the nurses returned, they 
found the cradle overturned, the child thrown out, 
and the ground covered with blood, as was also 
the dog, who they immediately concluded had 
killed the child. 

" Terrified at the idea of meeting the anger of 
the parents, they determined to escape ; but in 
their flight fell in with their mistress, to whom they 
were compelled to relate the supposed murder of 
the child by the greyhound. The knight soon 
arrived to hear the sad story, and, maddened with 
fury, rushed forward to the spot. The poor wounded 
and faithful animal made an effort to rise and wel- 
come his master with his accustomed fondness, but 
the enraged knight received him on the point of 
his sword, and he fell lifeless to the ground. On 
examination of the cradle, the infant was found alive, 
and unhurt, with the dead serpent lying by him. 
The knight now perceived what had happened, 
lamented bitterly over his faithful dog, and blamed 
himself for having too hastily depended on the 
■^ words of his wife. Abandoning the profession 
^■pf arms, he broke his lance in pieces, and vowed a 
^«)ilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he spent the 

138 The Dog Gellert 

The monkish hit at the wife is amusing, and 
might have been supposed to have originated with 
those determined misogynists, as the gallant Welsh- 
men lay all the blame on the man. But the good 
compilers of the "Gesta" wrote little of their own, ex- 
cept moral applications of the tales they relate, and 
the story of Folliculus and his dog, like many others, 
in their collection, is drawn from a foreign source. 

It occurs in the Seven Wise Masters, and in the 
"Calumnia Novercalis" as well, so that it must| 
have been popular throughout Mediaeval EuropCii 
Now the tales of the Seven Wise Masters an 
translations from a Hebrew work, the Kalilah and' 
Dimnah of Rabbi Joel, composed about A.D. 1^50, 
or from Symeon Seth's Greek Kylile and Dimne, 
written in 1080. These Greek and Hebrew works 
were derived from kindred sources. That of Rabbi 
Joel was a translation from an Arabic version made 
by Nasr- Allah in the twelfth century, whilst Simeon 
Seth's was a translation of the Persian Kalilah and 
Dimnah. But the Persian Kahlah and Dimnah 
was not either an original work, it was in turn a 
translation from the Sanskrit Pantschatantra, made 
about A.D. 540. 

In this ancient Indian book the story runs as 
follows — 

The Dog Gellert 139 

A Brahmin named Devasaman had a wife, who 
gave birth to a son, and also to an ichneumon. 
She loved both her children dearly, giving them 
alike the breast, and anointing them alike with 
salves. But she feared the ichneumon might not 
love his brother. 

One day, having laid her boy in bed, she took 
up the water jar, and said to her husband, " Hear 
me, master ! I am going to the tank to fetch water. 
Whilst I am absent watch the boy, lest he gets 
injured by the ichneumon." After she had left the 
house, the Brahmin went forth begging, leaving the 
house empty. In crept a black snake, and at- 
tempted to bite the child ; but the ichneumon 
rushed at it, and tore it in pieces. Then proud of 
its achievement, it sallied forth, all bloody, to meet 
its mother. She, seeing the creature stained with 
blood, concluded, with feminine precipitance, that it 
had fallen on the baby and killed it, and she flung 
her water jar at it and slew it. Only on her return 
home did she ascertain her mistake. 

The same story is also told in the Hitopadesa 
(iv. 13), but the animal is an otter, not an ich- 
neumon. In the Arabic version a weasel takes 
the place of the ichneumon. 

The Buddist missionaries carried the story into 


The Dog Gellert 

Mongolia, and In the Mongolian Uligerun, whicl 
is a translation of the Tibetian Dsanglun, th^ 
story reappears with the pole-cat as the brave an< 
suffering defender of the child. 

Stanislaus Julien, the great Chinese scholar, ha^ 
discovered the same tale in the Chinese worl 
entitled, "The Forest of Pearls from the Gardei 
of the Law." This work dates from 668 ; and 
it the creature is an ichneumon. 

In the Persian Sindibad-nameh, is the same tah 
but the faithful animal is a cat. In Sandabar an( 
Syntipas it has become a dog. Through th( 
influence of Sandabar on the Hebrew translatioi 
of the Kalilah and Dimnah, the ichneumon is als^ 
replaced by a dog. 

Such is the history of the Gellert legend ; it 
an introduction into Europe from India, every ste| 
of its transmission being clearly demonstrable 
From the Gesta Romanorum it passed into 
popular tale throughout Europe, and in differei 
countries it was, like the Tell myth, localized an< 
individualized. Many a Welsh story, such as thos< 
contained in the Mabinogion, are as easily tracec 
to an Eastern origin. 

But every story has its root. The root of th^ 
Gellert tale is this : A man forms an alliance ol 

The Dog Gellert 141 

friendship with a beast or bird. The dumb animal 
renders him a signal service. He misunderstands 
the act, and kills his preserver. 

We have tracked this myth under the Gellert 
form from India to Wales ; but under another 
form it is the property of the whole Aryan family, 
and forms a portion of the traditional lore of all 
nations sprung from that stock. 

Thence arose the classic fable of the peasant, 
who, as he slept, was bitten by a fly. He awoke, 
and in a rage killed the insect. When too late he 
observed that the little creature had aroused him 
that he might avoid a snake which lay coiled up 
near his pillow. 

In the Anvar-i-Suhaili is the following kindred 
tale. A king had a falcon. One day, whilst 
hunting, he filled a goblet with water dropping 
from a rock. As he put the vessel to his lips, his 
falcon dashed upon it, and upset it with its wings. 
The king, in a fury, slew the bird, and then dis- 
covered that the -water dripped from the jaws of a 
serpent of the most poisonous description. 

This story, with some variations, occurs in -^sop, 
^lian, and Apthonius. In the Greek fable, a 
peasant liberates an eagle from the clutches of a 
dragon. The dragon spirts poison into the water 

142 The Doz Gellert 


which the peasant is about to drink, without 
observing what the monster had done. The 
grateful eagle upsets the goblet with his wings. 

The story appears in Egypt under a whimsical 
form. A Wali once smashed a pot full of herbs 
which a cook had prepared. The exasperated 
cook thrashed the well-intentioned but unfortunat 
Wali within an inch of his life, and when 
returned, exhausted with his efforts at belabouring 
the man, to examine the broken pot, he discoven 
amongst the herbs a poisonous snake. 

How many brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, an^ 
cousins of all degrees a little story has ! And hoi 
few of the tales we listen to can lay any claim 
originality } There is scarcely a story which 
hear, which I cannot connect with some family of 
myths, and whose pedigree I cannot ascertain with 
more or less precision. Shakespeare drew the 
plots of his plays from Boccaccio or Straparola ; 
but these Italians did not invent the tales they 
lent to the English dramatist. King Lear does 
not originate with Geoffry of Monmouth, but comes 
from early Indian stores of fable, whence also are 
derived the Merchant of Venice and the pound of 
flesh, aye ! and the very incident of the three caskets. 

But who would credit it, were it not proved by 

The Dog Gellert 143 

conclusive facts, that Johnny Sands is the inhe- 
ritance of the whole Aryan family of nations, and 
that Peeping Tom of Coventry peeped in India 
and on the Tartar steppes ages before Lady 
Godiva was born ? 

If you listen to Traviata at the opera, you have 
set before you a tale which has lasted for centuries, 
and which was perhaps born in India. 

If you read in classic fable of Orpheus charm- 
ing woods and meadows, beasts and birds, with his 
magic lyre, you remember to have seen the same 
fable related in the Kalewala of the Finnish Wai- 
nomainen, and in the Kaieopoeg of the Esthonian 

If you take up English history and read of 
William the Conqueror slipping as he landed on 
British soil, and kissing the earth, saying he had 
come to greet and claim his own, you remember 
that the same story is told of Napoleon in Egypt, of 
King Olaf Harald's son in Norway, and in classic 
history of Junius Brutus on his return from the oracle. 

A little while ago I cut out of a Sussex news- 
paper, a story purporting to be the relation of a 
fact which had taken place at a fixed date in 
Lewes. This was the story. A tyrannical husband 
locked the door against his wife, who was out 

144 The Dog Gellert 

having tea with a neighbour, gossiping and scandal- 
mongering ; when she appHed for admittance, he 
pretended not to know her. She threatened to 
jump into the well unless he opened the door. 

The man, not supposing that she would carry her 
threat into execution, declined, alleging that he 
was in bed, and the night was chilly ; besides 
which he entirely disclaimed all acquaintance with^ 
the lady who besought admittance. 

The wife then flung a log into a well, am 
secreted herself behind the door. The man hearing] 
the splash, fancied that his good lady was really 
in the deeps, and forth he darted in his nocturnal 
costume, which was of the lightest, to ascertain 
whether his deliverance was complete. At once 
the lady darted into the house, locked the door, 
and on the husband pleading for admittance, she 
declared most solemnly from the window that she 
did not know him. 

Now this story, I can positively assert, unless 
the events of this world move in a circle, did not 
happen in Lewes, or any other Sussex town. 

It was told in the Gesta Romanorum six 
hundred years ago, and it was told, may be, as 
many hundred years before in India, for it is still 
to be found in Sanskrit collections of tales. 

Cadetr Mtn 

T WELL remember having it impressed upon 
-*- me by a Devonshire nurse, as a Httle child, 
that all Cornishmen were born with tails ; and it 
was long before I could overcome the prejudice 
thus early implanted in my breast against my 
Cornubian neighbours. I looked upon those who 
dwelt across the Tamar as "uncanny," as being 
scarcely to be classed with Christian people, and 
certainly not to be freely associated with by tail- 
less Devonians. I think my eyes were first opened 
to the fact that I had been deceived, by a worthy 

bookseller of L , with whom I had contracted 

a warm friendship, he having at sundry times con- 
tributed pictures to my scrap-book. I remember 
one day resolving to broach the delicate subject 


146 Tailed Men 

with my tailed friend, whom I Hked, notwith- 
standing his caudal appendage. 

*' Mr. X , is it true that you are a Cornish- 
man } " 

" Yes, my little man ; born and bred in the 
West country." 

" I like you very much ; — but — have you rea 
got a tail?" 

When the bookseller had recovered from 

astonishment which I had produced by my qu 

tion, he stoutly repudiated the charge. 

" But you are a Cornishman ?" 

** To be sure I am." 

*' And all Cornishmen have tails." 

I believe I satisfied my own mind that the g 

man had sat his off, and my nurse assured me t 

such was the case with those of sedentary habits. 

It is curious that Devonshire superstition shou 

attribute the tail to Cornishmen, for it was asse 

of certain men of Kent in olden times, and 

referred to Divine vengeance upon them for havin 

insulted S. Thomas a Becket, if we may believe 

Polydore Vergil. " There were some," he says, 

"to whom it seemed that the king's secret wish 

was, that Thomas should be got rid of He, 

indeed, as one accounted to be an enemy of the 



Tailed Men 147 

king's person, was already regarded with so little 
respect, nay, was treated with so much contempt, 
that when he came to Strood, which village ii 
situated on the Medway, the river that washes 
Rochester, the inhabitants of the place, being eager 
to show some mark of contumely to the prelate in 
his disgrace, did not scruple to cut off the tail of 
the horse on which he was riding ; but by this 
profane and inhospitable act they covered them- 
selves with eternal reproach, for it so happened 
after this, by the will of God, that all the offspring 
born from the men who had done this thing, were 
born with tails like brute animals. But this mark 
of infaniy, which formerly was every where noto- 
rious, has disappeared with the extinction of the 
race whose fathers perpetrated this deed." 

John Bale, the zealous reformer, and Bishop of 

Ossory in Edward VI.'s time, refers to this story, 

and also mentions a variation of the sc^ne and 

\ 'cause of this ignoble punishment. He writes 

I quoting his authorities, " John Capgrave and Alex- 

|1 ander of Esseby sayth, that for castynge of fyshe 

jl tayles at thys Augustyne, Dorsettshyre men had 

\ tayles ever after. But Polydorus applieth it unto 

Kentish men at Stroud, by Rochester, for cuttinge 

of Thomas Becket's horse's tail. Thus hath 

L 1 

148 Tailed Men 

England in all other land a perpetual infamy of 
tayles by theye wrytten legendes of lyes, yet can 
they not well tell where to bestowe them truely." 
Bale, a fierce and unsparing reformer, and one who 
stinted not hard words, applying to the inventors 
of these legends an epithet more strong than 
elegant, says, " In the legends of their sanctified 
sorcerers they have dififamed the English posterity 
with tails, as has been showed afore. That an 
Englyshman now cannot travayle in another land 
by way of marchandyse or any other honest oc 
pyinge, but it is most contumeliously thrown 
his tethe that all Englyshmen have tails. Th" 
uncomely note and report have the nation gotten, 
without recover, by these laisy and idle lubbers, 
the monkes and the priestes, which could find no 
matters to advance their canonized gains by, or 
their saintes, as they call them, but manifest lies 
and knaveries \" 

Andrew Marvel also makes mention of this' 
strange judgment in his Loyal Scot: — 

" But who considers right will find indeed, 
'Tis Holy Island parts us, not the Tweed. 
Nothing but clergy could us two seclude, 
No Scotch was ever like a bishop's feud. 


Actes of English Votaries." 

Tailed Men 149 

All Litanys in this have wanted faith, 

There's no — Deliver us from a BisJiofs wrath. 

Never shall Calvin pardon'd be for sales, 

Never for Burnet's sake, the Lauderdales ; 

For Beckef s sake, Kent always shall have tails." 

Bailey in his Dictionary, under the head of 
" Kentish longtails," endeavours to shift the charge 
to Dorsetshire ; and Lambarde, in his " Perambula- 
tion of Kent," is equally sensitive on the subject. 
Vieyra, the famous Portuguese preacher, says that 
Satan was tail-less till his fall, when that appendage 
grew to him " as an outward and visible token that 
he had lost the rank of an angel, and was fallen to 
the level of a brute I" 

It may be remembered that Lord Monboddo, a 
Scotch judge of last century, and a philosopher 
of some repute, though of great eccentricity, stoutly 
maintained the theory that man ought to have a 
tail, that the tail is a desideratum, and that the 
abrupt termination of the spine without caudal 
elongation is a sad blemish in the organization of 
man. The tail, the point in which man is inferior 
to the brute, what a delicate index of the mind it 
is ! how it expresses the passions of love and hate, 
how nicely it gives token of the feelings of joy or 

" Quarterly Review, No. 244, p. 446. 

150 Tailed Men 

fear which animate the soul ! But Lord Mon- 
boddo did not consider that what the tail is to the 
brute, that the eye is to man ; the lack of one 
member is supplied by the other. I can tell a 
proud man by his eye just as truly as if he stalked 
past one with erect tail, and anger is as plainly 
depicted in the human eye as in the bottle-brush 
tail of a cat. I know a sneak by his cowering 
glance, though he has not a tail between his le^ 
and pleasure is evident in the laughing eye, witho^ 
there being any necessity for a wagging brush 
express it. 

Dr. Johnson paid a visit to the judge, an( 
knocked on the head his theory, that men ought to 
have tails, and actually were born with them 
occasionally, for, said he, " Of a standing fact, sir, 
there ought to be no controversy ; if there are mer. 
with tails, catch a homo caudatus!' And, " It is a 
pity to see Lord Monboddo publish such notions 
as he has done ; a man of sense, and of so much 
elegant learning. There would be little in a 
fool doing it ; we should only laugh ; but, when a 
wise man does it, we are sorry. Other people have 
strange notions, but they conceal them. If they 
have tails, they hide them ; but Monboddo is as 
jealous of his tail as a squirrel." And yet Johnson 

Tailed Men 151 

seems to have been tickled with the idea, and to 
have been amused with the notion of an appendage 
like a tail being regarded as the complement of 
human perfection. It may be remembered how 
Johnson made the acquaintance of the young 
Laird of Col, during his Highland tour, and how 
pleased he was with him. " Col," says he, " is a 
noble animal. He is as complete an islander as the 
mind can figure. He is a farmer, a sailor, a hunter, 
a fisher : he will run you down a dog ; if any man 
has a tail, it is Col. " And notwithstanding all his 
aversion to puns, the great Doctor was fain to yield 
to human weakness on one occasion, under the 
influence of the mirth which Monboddo's name 
seems to have excited. Johnson writes to Mrs. 
Thrale of a party he had met one night, which he 
thus enumerates ; " There were Smelt, and the 
Bishop of S. Asaph, who comes to every place ; 
and Sir Joshua, and Lord Monboddo, and ladies 
out of tale" 

There is a Polish story of a witch who made 
a girdle of human skin and laid it across the 
threshold of a door where a marriage-feast was being 
held. On the bridal pair stepping across the girdle 
they were transformed into wolves. Three years 
after the witch sought them out, and cast over 

152 Tailed Men 

them dresses of fur with the hair turned outward, 
whereupon they recovered their human forms, but, 
unfortunately, the dress cast over the bridegroom 
was too scanty, and did not extend over his tail, so 
that, when he was restored to his former condition, 
he retained his lupine caudal appendage, and this 
became hereditary in his family ; so that all Poles 
with tails are lineal descendants of the ancestor to 
whom this little mJsfortune happened. John Struys, 
a Dutch traveller, who visited the isle of Formosa 
in 1677, gives a curious story which is worth tran- 

" Before I visited this island," he writes, " I had 
often heard tell that there were men who had long 
tails like brute beasts ; but I had never been able 
to believe it, and I regarded it as a thing so alien 
to our nature, that I should now have difficulty in 
accepting it, if my own senses had not removed 
from me every pretence for doubting the fact, by 
the following strange adventure : — The inhabitants 
of Formosa being used to see us, were in the habit 
of receiving us on terms which left nothing to 
apprehend on either side ; so that, although mere 
foreigners, we always believed ourselves in safety, 
and had grown familiar enough to ramble at large 
without an escort, when grave experience taught us 

Tailed Men 153 

that, in so doing, we were hazarding too much. As 
some of our party were one day taking a stroll, one 
of them had occasion to withdraw about a stone's 
throw from the rest, who being at the moment 
engaged in an eager conversation, proceeded 
without heeding the disappearance of their com- 
panion. After a while, however, his absence was 
observed, and the party paused, thinking he would 
rejoin them. They waited some time, but at last, 
tired of the delay, they returned in the direction of 
the spot where they remembered to have seen him 
last. Arriving there, they were horrified to find 
his mangled body lying on the ground, though the 
nature of the lacerations showed that he had not had 
to suffer long ere death released him. Whilst some 
remained to watch the dead body, others went off 
in search of the murderer, and these had not gone 
far, when they came upon a man of peculiar 
appearance, who, finding himself enclosed by the 
exploring party, so as to make escape from them 
impossible, began to foam with rage, and by cries 
and wild gesticulations to intimate that he would 
make any one repent the attempt who should venture 
to meddle with him. The fierceness of his despera- 
tion for a time kept our people at bay, but as his fury 
gradually subsided, they gathered more closely 

154 Tailed Men 

round him, and at length seized him. He then soon 
made them understand that it was he who had 
killed their comrade, but they could not learn from 
him any cause for this conduct. As the crime was 
so atrocious, and, if allowed to pass with impunity, 
might entail even more serious consequences, it was 
determined to burn the man. He was tied up to a 
stake, where he was kept for some hours before the 
time of execution arrived. It was then that I 
beheld what I had never thought to see. He had a 
tail more than a foot long, covered with red hair, 
and very like that of a cow. When he saw the 
surprise that this discovery created among the 
European spectators, he informed us that his tail 
was the effect of climate, for that all the inhabitants 
of the southern side of the island, where they then 
were, were provided with like appendages'." 

After Struys, Hornemann reported that, between 
the Gulf of Benin and Abyssinia, were tailed an- 
thropophagi, named by the natives Niam-niams ; 
and in 1849, ^' Descouret, on his return from 
Mecca, affirmed that such was a common report, 
and added that they had long arms, low and 
narrow foreheads, long and erect ears, and slim 

' " Voyages de Jean Struys," An. 1650. 

Tailed Men 165 

Mr. Harrison, in his " Highlands of Ethiopia," 
alludes to the common belief among the Abys- 
sinians, in a pigmy race of this nature. 

MM. Arnault and Vayssiere, travellers in the 
same country, in 1850, brought the subject before 
the Academy of Sciences. 

In 1851 M. de Castelnau gave additional details 
relative to an expedition against these tailed men. 
"The Niam-niams," he says, "were sleeping in the 
sun : the Haoussas approached, and, falling on 
them, massacred them to the last man. They had 
all of them tails forty centimetres long, and from 
two to three in diameter. This organ is smooth. 
Among the corpses were those of several women, 
who were deformed in the same manner. In all 
other particulars, the men were precisely like all 
other negroes. They are of a deep black, their 
teeth are polished, their bodies not tattooed. They 
are armed with clubs and javelins ; in war they 
utter piercing cries. They cultivate rice, maize, 
and other grain. They are fine-looking men, and 
their hair is not frizzled." 

M. d'Abbadie, another Abyssinian traveller, 
writing in 1852, gives the following account from 
the lips of an Abyssinian priest. " At the distance 
of fifteen days' journey south of Herrar, is a place 

156 Tailed Men 

where all the men have tails, the length of a palm, 
covered with hair, and situated at the extremity of 
the spine. The females of that country are very 
beautiful and are tailless. I have seen some fifteen 
of these people at Besberah, and I am positive that 
the tail is natural." 

It will be observed that there is a discrepancy 
between the accounts of M. de Castelnau and 
M. d'Abbadie. The former accords tails to the 
ladies, whilst the latter denies them. According to j 
the former the tail is smooth, according to the 
latter it is covered with hair. 

Dr. Wolf has improved on this in his "Travels 
and Adventures," Vol. II. 1861. "There are men 
and women in Abyssinia with tails like dogs and 
horses." — "Wolf heard also from a great many 
Abyssinians and Armenians (and Wolf is convinced 
of the truth of it), that there are near Narea in 
Abyssinia, people — men and women — with large 
tails, with which they are able to knock down a 
horse, and there are also such people near China." 
And in a note, " In the College of Surgeons at 
Dublin may still be seen a human skeleton, with a 
tail seven inches long ! There are many known 
instances of this elongation of the caudal vertebra, 
as in the Poonangs in Borneo." 

Tailed Men 157 

But the most interesting and circumstantial 
account of the Niam-niams is that given by 
Dr. Hubsch, physician to the hospitals of Con- 
stantinople. "It was in 1852," says he, "that I 
saw for the first time a tailed negress. I was 
struck with this phenomenon, and I questioned her 
master, a slave dealer. I learned from him that 
there exists a tribe called Niam-niam, occupying 
the interior of Africa. All the members of this 
tribe bear the caudal appendage, and, as Oriental 
imagination is given to exaggeration, I was assured 
that the tails sometimes attained the length of two 
feet. That which I observed was smooth and 
hairless. It was about two inches long, and ter- 
minated in a point. This woman was as black as 
ebony, her hair was frizzled, her teeth white, large, 
and planted in sockets which incHned considerably 
outward ; her four canine teeth were filed, her 
eyes bloodshot. She ate meat raw, her clothes 
fidgeted her, her intellect was on a par with that 
of others of her condition. 

" Her master had been unable, during six months, 
to sell her, notwithstanding the low figure at which 
he would have disposed of her ; the abhorrence 
with which she was regarded was not attributed to 
her tail, but to the partiality, which she was unable 

158 Tailed Men 

to conceal, for human flesh. Her tribe fed on 
the flesh of the prisoners taken from the neigh- 
bouring tribes, with whom they were constantly at 

" As soon as one of the tribe dies, his relations, 
instead of burying him, cut him up and regale 
themselves upon his remains ; consequently there 
are no cemeteries in this land. They do not all of 
them lead a wandering life, but many of them con- 
struct hovels of the branches of trees. They make 
for themselves weapons of war and of agriculture ; 
they cultivate maize and wheat, and keep cattle. 
The Niam-niams have a language of their own, of 
an entirely primitive character, though containing 
an infusion of Arabic words. 

" They live in a state of complete nudity, and 
seek only to satisfy their brute appetites. There is 
among them an utter disregard for morality, incest 
and adultery being common. The strongest among 
them becomes the chief of the tribe ; and it is he 
who apportions the shares of the booty obtained in 
war. It is hard to say whether they have any 
religion ; but in 'all probability they have none, 
as they readily adopt any one which they are 

"It is difficult to tame them altogether; their 

Tailed Men 159 

instinct impelling them constantly to seek for 
human flesh ; and instances are related of slave, 
who have massacred and eaten the children con 
fided to their charge. 

" I have seen a man of the same race, who 
had a tail an inch and a half long, covered 
with a few hairs. He appeared to be thirty- 
five years old ; he was robust, well built, of an 
ebon blackness, and had the same peculiar forma- 
tion of jaw noticed above, that is to say, the tooth 
sockets were inclined outwards. Their four canine 
teeth are filed down, to diminish their power of 

" I know also, at Constantinople, the son of a 
physician, aged two years, who was born with a 
tail an inch long ; he belonged to the white Cau- 
casian race. One of his grandfathers possessed the 
same appendage. This phenomenon is regarded 
generally in the East as a sign of great brute 

About ten years ago, a newspaper paragraph 
recorded the birth of a boy at Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
provided with a tail about an inch and a quarter 
long. It was asserted that the child when sucking 
wagged this stump as token of pleasure. 

According to a North-American Indian tradition 

160 Tailed Men 

all men were created originally with tails, tails 
long-haired, sleek, and comely. These tails were 
their delight, and they adorned them with paint, 
beads and wampum. Then the world was at peace, 
discord and wars were unknown. Men became 
proud and forgot their Maker, and He found it 
necessary to disturb their serenity by sending 
them a scourge which might teach them humility, 
and make them realize their dependence on the 
Great Spirit. Then He amputated their tails, and' 
out of these dejecta membra fashioned women — • 
who, say the Kikapoos, retain traces of their origin, 
for we find them ever trailing after the men, frisky 
and impulsive ". 

Yet, notwithstanding all this testimony in favour 
of tailed men and women, I profess myself dubious ; 
and shall yield only when a homo caudatiis has 
been caught and shown to me. 

■* Atherne Jones, Trad. N. American Indians, ill. 175. 

FROM the earliest ages of the Church, the 
advent of the Man of Sm has been looked 
forward to with terror, and the passages of Scrip- 
ture relating to him have been studied with solemn 
awe, lest that day of wrath should come upon the 
Church unawares. As events in the world's history- 
took place which seemed to be indications of the 
approach of Antichrist, a great horror fell upon 
men's minds, and their imaginations conjured up 
myths which flew from mouth to mouth, and which 
were implicitly believed. 

Before speaking of these strange tales which pro- 
duced such an effect on the minds of men in the 
Middle Ages, it will be well briefly to examine the 
opinions of divines of the early ages on the pas- 
sages of Scripture connected with the coming of 
the last great persecutor of the Church. Antichrist 


162 Antichrist and Pope Joan 

was believed by most ancient writers to be destined 
to arise out of the tribe of Dan, a belief founded 
on the prediction of Jacob, " Dan shall be a serpent 
by the way, an adder in the path " (conf Jeremiah 
vili. 1 5), and on the exclamation of the dying 
patriarch, when looking on his son Dan, " I have 
waited for Thy Salvation, O Lord," as though the 
long-suffering of God had borne long with thj 
tribe, but in vain, and it was to be extingulsh( 
without hope. This, indeed, is implied in tl 
sealing of the servants of God in their foreheac 
(Revelation vil.), when twelve thousand out 
every tribe, except Dan, were seen by S. Johl 
to receive the seal of adoption, whilst of the tribe 
of Dan not 07ie was sealed, as though it, to a man, 
had apostatized. 

Opinions as to the nature of Antichrist were 
divided. Some held that he was to be a devil in 
phantom body, and of this number was Hippolytus. 
Others again believed that he would be an incarnate 
demon, true man and true devil ; in fearful and 
diabolical parody of the Incarnation of our Lord. 
A third view was that he would be merely a des- 
perately wicked man, acting upon diabolic Inspira- 
tions, just as the saints act upon divine inspirations. 
S. John Damascene expressly asserts that he will 

AnticJirist and Pope Joan 163 

not be an incarnate demon, but a devilish man, for 
he says, " Not as Christ assumed humanity, so will 
the devil become human, but the Man will receive 
all the inspiration of Satan, and will suffer the devil 
to take up his abode within him." In this manner, 
Antichrist could have many forerunners, and so S. 
Jerome and S. Augustine saw an Antichrist in 
Nero, not the Antichrist, but one of those of whom 
the Apostle speaks — " Even now are there many 
Antichrists." Thus also every enemy of the 
faith, such as Diocletian, Julian, and Mahomet, 
has been regarded as a precursor of the Arch- 
persecutor, who was expected to sum up in him- 
self the cruelty of a Nero or Diocletian, the show 
of virtue of a Julian, and the spiritual pride of a 

From infancy the evil one is to take possession 
of Antichrist, and to train him for his office, instil- 
ling into him cunning, cruelty, and pride. His 
doctrine will be — not downright infidelity, but a 
" show of godliness," whilst " denying the power 
thereof," i.e. the miraculous origin and divine 
authority of Christianity. He will sow doubts of 
our Lord's manifestation "in the flesh," he will 
allow Christ to be an excellent Man, capable of 
teaching the most exalted truths, and inculcating 
M 1 

164 Antichrist mid Pope Joan 

the purest morality, yet Himself fallible and carried 
away by fanaticism. 

In the end, however, Antichrist will " exalt 
himself to sit as God in the temple of God," and 
become "the abomination of desolation standing 
in the holy place." At the same time there is 
to be an awful alliance struck l^etween himself, 
the impersonification of the world-power, and th< 
Church of God ; some high pontiff of which, or th^ 
episcopacy in general, will enter into league wil 
the unbelieving State to oppress the very elect. Ij 
is a strange instance of religionary virulence whic 
makes some detect the Pope of Rome in th^ 
Man of Sin, the Harlot, the Beast, and tht 
Priest going before it. The Man of Sin and th« 
Beast are unmistakably identical, and refer t^ 
an Antichristian world-power ; whilst the Harlot 
and the Priest are symbols of an apostasy in the 
Church. There is nothing Roman in this, but 
something very much the opposite. 

How the Abomination of Desolation can be con- 
sidered as set up in a Church where every sanc- 
tuary is adorned with all that can draw the heart 
to the Crucified, and raise the thoughts to the 
imposing ritual of heaven, is a puzzle to me. To 
the man uninitiated in the law that Revelation is 

Antichrist ajid Pope Joan 165 

to be interpreted by contraries, it would seem more 
like the Abomination of Desolation in the Holy- 
Place if he entered a Scotch Presbyterian, or a 
Dutch Calvinist, place of worship. Rome does not 
fight against the Daily Sacrifice, and endeavour to 
abolish it ; that has been rather the labour of so- 
called Church Reformers, who with the suppression 
of the doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice and Sacra- 
mental Adoration have well nigh obliterated all 
notion of worship to be addressed to the God-Man. 
Rome does not deny the power of the godliness of 
which she makes show, but insists on that power 
with no broken accents. It is rather in other com- 
munities, where authority is flung aside, and any 
man is permitted to believe or reject what he likes, 
that we must look for the leaven of the Antichris- 
tian spirit at work. However, this is not a ques- 
tion into which we care to enter, our province is 
myth not theology. 

In the time of Antichrist, we are told by ancient 
Commentators, the Church will be divided : one 
portion will hold to the world-power, the other will 
seek out the old paths, and cling to the only true 
Guide. The high places will be filled with un- 
believers in the Incarnation, and the Church will 
be in a condition of the utmost spiritual degrada- 

166 Antichrist and Pope Joan 

tion, but enjoying the highest State patronage. 
The religion in favour will be one of morality, but 
not of dogma ; and the Man of Sin will be able to 
promulgate his doctrine, according to S. Anselm, 
through his great eloquence and wisdom, his vast 
learning and mightiness in the Holy Scriptures, 
which he will wrest to the overthrowing of dogma- 
He will be liberal in bribes, for he will be of ui 
bounded wealth ; he will be capable of performii 
great "signs and wonders," so as "to deceive — tl 
very elect ;" and at the last, he will tear the moi 
veil from his countenance, and a monster of impiety 
and cruelty, he will inaugurate that awful persecu- 
tion, which is to last for three years and a half, and 
to excel in horror all the persecutions that have 
gone before. 

In that terrible season of confusion faith will be 
all but extinguished. "When the Son of Man 
Cometh shall He find faith on the earth V asks our 
Blessed Lord, as though expecting the answer, No ; 
and then, says Marchantius, the vessel of the 
Church will disappear in the foam of that boiling 
deep of infidelity, and be hidden in the blackness 
of that storm of destruction which sweeps over the 
earth. The sun shall " be darkened, and the moon 
shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from 

Aiitichrist and Pope Joan 167 

heaven ;" the sun of faith shall have gone out ; the 
moon, the Church, shall not give her light, being 
turned into blood, through stress of persecution ; 
and the stars, the great ecclesiastical dignitaries, 
shall fall into apostasy. But still the Church will 
remain unwrecked, she will weather the storm ; still 
will she come forth " beautiful as the moon, terrible 
as an army with banners ; " for after the lapse of 
those three and a half years, Christ will descend to 
avenge the blood of the saints, by destroying Anti- 
christ and the world-power. 

Such is a brief sketch of the Scriptural doctrine 
of Antichrist as held by the Early and Mediaeval 
Church. Let us now see to what Myths it gave 
rise among the vulgar and the imaginative. Rabanus 
Maurus, in his work on the life of Antichrist, gives 
a full account of the miracles he will perform ; he 
tells us that the Man-fiend will heal the sick, raise 
the dead, restore sight to the blind, hearing to the 
deaf, speech to the dumb ; he will raise storms and 
calm them, will remove mountains, make trees 
flourish or wither at a word. He will rebuild the 
temple at Jerusalem, and make the Holy City the 
great capital of the world. Popular opinion added 
that his vast wealth would be obtained from hidden 
treasures, which are now being concealed by the 

168 Antichrist a7id Pope yoan 

demons for his use Various possessed persons, 
when interrogated, announced that such was the 
case, and that the amount of buried gold was vast. 
" In the year 1599," says Canon Moreau, a con- 
temporary historian, "a rumour circulated with 
prodigious rapidity through Europe, that Anti- 
christ had been born at Babylon, and that already 
the Jews of that part were hurrying to receive and 
recognize him as their Messiah. The news ca 
from Italy and Germany, and extended to Spai; 
England, and other Western kingdoms, troubli 
many people, even the most discreet ; however t 
learned gave it no credence, saying that the sig 
predicted in Scripture to precede that event were 
not yet accomplished, and among other that the 
Roman empire was not yet abolished. . . . Others 
said that, as for the signs, the majority had already 
appeared to the best of their knowledge, and with 
regard to the rest, they might have taken place in 
distant regions without their having been made 
known to them ; that the Roman empire existed 
but in name, and that the interpretation of the 
passage on which its destruction was predicted, 
might be incorrect : that for many centuries, the 
most learned and pious had believed in the near 
approach of Antichrist, some believing that he had 


Antichrist aiid Pope Joan 169 

already come, on account of the persecutions which 
had fallen on the Christians ; others on account of 
fires, or eclipses, or earthquakes. . . . Every one 
was in excitement ; some declared that the news 
rnust be correct, others believed nothing about it, 
and the agitation became so excessive, that Henry 
IV., who was then on the throne, was compelled by 
edict to forbid any mention of the subject." 

The report spoken of by Moreau gained addi- 
tional confirmation from the announcement made 
by an exorcised demoniac, that in 1600, the Man of 
Sin had been born in the neighbourhood of Paris 
of a Jewess, named Blanchefleure, who had con- 
jceived by Satan. The child had been baptized at 
the Sabbath of Sorcerers ; and a witch, under tor- 
ture, acknowledged that she had rocked the infant 
Antichrist on her knees, and she averred that he 
had claws on his feet, wore no shoes, and spoke all 

In 1633 appeared the following startling an- 
nouncement, which obtained an immense circula- 
tion among the lower orders : " We, brothers of the 
Order of S. John of Jerusalem, in the isle of Malta, 
[have received letters from our spies, who are en- 
gaged in our service in the country of Babylon, 
now possessed by the Grand Turk ; by the which 

170 Antichrist and Pope Joan 

letters we are advertised, that, on the ist of 
May, in the year of our Lord 1623, a child 
was born in the town of Bourydot, otherwise 
called Calka, near Babylon, of the which child 
the mother is a very aged woman of race un- 
known, called Fort-Juda : of the father nothing 
is known. The child is dusky, has pleasant moutl 
and eyes, teeth pointed like those of a cat, ears 
large, stature by no means exceeding that of othei 
children ; the said child, incontinent on his birtl 
walked and talked perfectly well. His speech 
comprehended by every one, admonishing th< 
people that he is the true Messiah, and the son 
God, and that in him all must believe. Our spies' 
also swear and protest that they have seen the said 
child with their own eyes ; and they add, that, oi^H 
the occasion of his nativity, there appeared mar- 
vellous signs in heaven, for at full noon the sun lost 
its brightness, and was for some time obscured." 
This is followed by a list of other signs appear- 
ing, the most remarkable being a swarm of flying 
serpents, and a shower of precious stones. 

According to Sebastian Michaeliz, in his history 
of the possessed of Flanders, on the authority of 
the exorcised demons, we learn that Antichrist is 
to be a son of Beelzebub, who will accompany his 

A ntichrist a7id Pope Joan 171 

offspring under the' form of a bird, with four feet 
and a bull's head ; that he will torture Christians 
with the same tortures with which the lost souls are 
racked ; that he will be able to fly, speak all lan- 
guages, and will have any number of names. 

We find that Antichrist is known to the Mussul- 
mans as well as to Christians. Lane, in his edition 
of the " Arabian Nights," gives some curious details 
on Moslem ideas regarding him. According to 
these, Antichrist will overrun the earth, mounted on 
an ass, and followed by 40,000 Jews ; his empire 
will last forty days, whereof the first day will be a 
year long, the duration of the second will be a 
month, that of the third a week, the others being of 
their usual length. He will devastate the whole 
world, leaving Mecca and Medina alone in security, 
as these holy cities will be guarded by angelic 
legions. Christ at last will descend to earth, and 
in a great battle will destroy the Man-devil. 

Several writers of different denominations, no 
less superstitious than the common people, con- 
nected the apparition of Antichrist with the fable 
of Pope Joan, which obtained such general 
credence at one time, but which modern criticism 
has at length succeeded in excluding from his- 

172 A ntichrist and Pope Joan 

The earliest writer supposed to mention Pope 
Joan is Anastasius the Librarian, a contemporary 
(d. 886) ; next to him is Marianus Scotus, who ia| 
his chronicle inserts the following passage: "A.] 
854, Lotharii 14, Joanna, a woman, succeeded Le( 
and reigned two years, five months, and four days.' 
Marianus Scotus died A.D. 1086. The same stoi 
is inserted in the valuable chronicle of Sigebert d< 
Gemblours (d. 5th Oct. 1112) : "It is reported that 
this John was a female, and that she conceived by_ 
one of her servants. The Pope, becoming preg^ 
nant, gave birth to a child, wherefore some do not 
number her among the Pontiffs." Hence the stoi 
spread among the mediaeval chroniclers, who wer^ 
great plagiarists. Otto of Frisingen and Gotfrid 
Viterbo mention the Lady-Pope in their histories 
and Martin Polonus gives details as follows : " Aftej 
Leo IV. John Anglus, a native of Metz, reigned twc 
years, five months, and four days. And the pontifi- 
cate was vacant for a month. He died in Rome. 
He is related to have been a female, and, when a 
girl, to have accompanied her sweetheart in male 
costume to Athens ; there she advanced in various 
sciences, and none could be found to equal her. 
So, after having studied for three years in Rome, 
she had great masters for her pupils and hearers. 

Antichrist and Pope Joan 173 

And when there arose a high opinion in the city of 
her virtue and knowledge, she was unanimously- 
elected Pope. But during her papacy she became 
in the family way by a familiar. Not knowing the 
time of birth, as she was on her way from S. 
Peter's to the Lateran she had a painful delivery, 
between the Coliseum and S. Clement's Church, 
in the street. Having died after, it is said that she 
was buried on the spot, and therefore the Lord 
Pope always turns aside from that way, and it is 
supposed by some, out of detestation for what hap- 
pened there. Nor on that account is she placed in 
the catalogue of the Holy Pontiffs, not only or 
account of her sex, but also because of the horrible- 
ness of the circumstance." 

Certainly a story at all scandalous crescit eimdo. 

William Ocham alludes to the story, Thomas 
de Elmham (1422) quaintly observes, "A.D. 855. 
Joannes. Iste non computatus. Foemina fuit ;" and 
John Huss, only too happy to believe it, provides the 
lady with a name, and asserts that she was bap- 
tized Agnes, or, as he will have it with a strong 
aspirate, Hagnes. Others, however, insist upon her 
name having been Gilberta, and som.e stout Ger- 
mans, not relishing the notion of her being a 
daughter of Fatherland, palm her off on England. 

174 A ntichrist and Pope Joan 

As soon as we arrive at Reformation times the 
German and French Protestants fasten on the story 
with the utmost avidity, and add sweet little 
touches of their own, and draw conclusions galling 
enough to the Roman See, illustrating their 
accounts with wood engravings vigorous and 
graphic, but hardly decent. One of these repre- 
sents the event in a peculiarly startling manner. 
The procession of bishops with the Host and taper 
is sweeping along, when suddenly the cross-beare: 
before the triple-crowned and vested Pope starts 
aside to witness the unexpected arrival. This 
engraving, which it is quite impossible for me to 
reproduce, is in a curious little book, entitled 
"Puerperium Johannis Papae 8, 1530." 

The following jingling record of the event is from 
the Rhythmical Vitae Pontificum of Gulielmus 
Jacobus of Egmonden, a work never printed. This 
fragment is preserved in "Wolffii Lectionum Me- 
morabilium centenarii, XVI. :" 

*' Priusquam reconditur Sergius, vocatur 
Ad summam, qui dicitur Johannes, huic addatur 
Anglicus, Moguntia iste procreatur. 
Qui, ut dat sententia, foeminis aptatur 
Sexu : quod sequentia monstrant, breviatur, 
Ha^c vox : nam prolixius chronica procedunt 
Ista, de qua brevius dicta minus lasdunt. 


A ntichrist and Pope Joan 1 75 

Huic erat amasius, ut scriptor'es credunt. 
Patria relinquitur Moguntia, Graecorum 
Studiose petitur schola. Post doctorum 
Hasc doctrix efficitur Romae legens : horum 
Haec auditu fungi tur loquens. Hinc prostrato 
Summo hsec eligitur : sexu exaltato 
Quandoque negligitur. Fatur quod hasc nato 
Per servum conficitur. Tempore gignendi 
Ad processum equus scanditur, vice flendi, 
Papa cadit, panditur improbis ridendi 
Norma, puer nascitur in vico Clementis, 
Colossceum jungitur. Corpus parentis 
In eodem traditur sepulturas gentis, 
Faturque scriptoribus, quod Papa prasfato, 
Vico senioribus transiens amato 
Congruo ductoribus sequitur negato 
Loco, quo Ecclesia partu denigratur, 
Ouamvis inter spacia Pontificum ponatur. 
Propter sexum." 

Stephen Blanch, in his " Urbis Romae Mirabllla," 
says that an angel of heaven appeared to Joan 
before the event, and asked her to choose whether 
she should prefer burning eternally in hell, or 
having her confinement in public ; with sense which 
does her credit, she chose the latter. The Protes- 
tant writers were not satisfied that the father of 
the unhappy baby should have been a servant : 
some made him a Cardinal, and others the devil 
himself. According to an eminent Dutch minister, 
it is immaterial whether the child be fathered on 
Satan or a monk : at all events, the former took a 

176 Antichrist and Pope Joan 

lively interest in the youthful Antichrist, and, on 
the occasion of his birth, was seen and heard 
fluttering overhead, crowing and chanting in an 
unmusical voice the Sibyline verses announcing 
the birth of the Arch-persecutor : — 

" Papa pater patrum, Papissae pandito partum 
Et tibi tunc eadem de corpore quando recedam ! " 

which lines, as being perhaps the only ones known 
to be of diabolic composition, are deserving of pre 

The Reformers, in order to reconcile dates, were 
put to the somewhat perplexing necessity of 
moving Pope Joan to their own times, or else of 
giving to the youthful Antichrist an age of seven 
hundred years. 

It must be allowed that the accouc^iement of a 
Pope in full pontificals, during a solemn procession, 
was a prodigy not likely to occur more than once 
in the world's history, and was certain to be of 
momentous import. 

It will be seen by the curious woodcut repro- 
duced as frontispiece from Baptista Mantuanus, 
that he consigned Pope Joan to the jaws of hell, 
notwithstanding her choice. The verses accom- 
panying this picture are : 


A n tick rist ajtd Pope Joan 177 

" Hie pendebat adhuc sexiim mentita virile 
Foemina, cui triplici Phrygiam diademate mitran 
ExtoUebat apex : et pontificalis adulter." 

It need hardly be stated that the whole story of I 
Pope Joan is fabulous, and rests on not the slightest/ 
historical foundation. It was probably a Greekj 
invention to throw discredit on the papal hierarchy, 
first circulated more than two hundred years after 
the date of the supposed Pope. Even Martin 
Polonus (a.D. 1282), who is the first to give the 
details, does so merely on popular report. 

The great champions of the myth were the Pro- 
testants of the sixteenth century, who were tho- 
roughly unscrupulous in distorting history and 
suppressing facts, so long as they could make a 
point. A paper war was waged upon the subject, 
and finally the whole story was proved conclusively 
to be utterly destitute of historical truth. A 
melancholy example of the blindness of party feel- 
ing and prejudice is seen in Mosheim, who assumes 
the truth of the ridiculous story, and gravely inserts 
it in his " Ecclesiastical History." " Between Leo 
IV., who died 855, and Benedict III., a woman, who 
concealed her sex and assumed the name of John, 
it is said, opened her way to the Pontifical throne 
by her learning and genius, and governed the 


178 A ntichrist and Pope Joa7i 

Church for a time. She is commonly called the 
Papess Joan. During the five subsequent centuries 
the witnesses to this extraordinary event are without 
number ; nor did any one, prior to the Reforma- 
tion by Luther, regard the thing as either in- 
credible or disgraceful to the Church." Such are 
Mosheim's words, and I give them as a specimen 
of the credit which is due to his opinion. The 
" Ecclesiastical History " he wrote is full of perv 
sions of the plainest facts, and that under 
notice is but one out of many. " During the 
centuries after her reign," he says, "the witnes 
to the story are innumerable." Now for t 
centuries there is not an allusion to be found to 
the events. The only passage which can be found 
is a universally acknowledged interpolation of the 
" Lives of the Popes," by Anastasius Bibliothe- 
carius, and this interpolation is stated in the first 
printed edition by Busseus, Mogunt. \6Q%y to be 
only found in two MS. copies. 

Mosheim is false again in asserting that no one 
prior to the Reformation regarded the thing as 
either incredible or disgraceful. This is but of a 
piece with his disregard for truth, whenever he can 
hit the Catholic Church hard. Bart. Platina, in 
his "Lives of the Popes," written before Luther 

Antichrist a7td Pope Joan 179 

was born, after relating the story, says, "These 
things which I relate are popular reports, but 
derived from uncertain and obscure authors, which 
I have therefore inserted briefly- and baldly, lest I 
should seem to omit obstinately and pertinaciously 
what most people assert." Thus the facts were 
justly doubted by Platina on the legitimate grounds 
that they rested on popular gossip, and not on 
reliable history. Anastasius the Librarian, con- 
temporary of the alleged circumstance, is the 
first cited as evidence to there having been a 
Papess. This testimony is however open to serious 
objection. The MSS. of the works of Anastasius do 
not uniformly contain the fable. Panvini, who wrote 
additions to Platina, De vitis Romanormn Po7iti- 
ficum, assures us that "in old books of the lives 
of the Popes, written by Damasus, by the 
Librarian, and by Pandulph de Pisa, there is no 
mention of this woman : only on the margin, 
betwixt Leo IV. and Benedict III., this fable has 
been found inserted by a later writer, in characters 
altogether distinct from the text." 

Blondel, the great Protestant writer, who ruined 

the case of the Decretals, says that he examined a 

MS. of Anastasius in the Royal Library at Paris, 

and found the story of Pope Joan inserted in such 

N 1 

180 Antichrist and Pope Joan 

a manner as to convince him that it was a late 
interpolation. He says ^, " Having read and re- 
read it, I found that the elogium of the pretended 
Papess is taken from the words of Martinus Polo- 
nus, penitenciary to Innocent IV., and Arch- 
bishop of Cosenza,an author four hundred years later 
than Anastasius, and much more given to all these 
kinds of fables." His reasons for so thinking ai 
that the style is not that of the Librarian, bt 
similar to that of Martin Polonus ; also that the 
sertion interferes with the text of the chronicle, ai 
bears evidence of clumsy piecing. " In the elogiui 
of Leo IV. and Benedict III., as given to us in the 
manuscript of the Bibliotheque Royale, swelled with 
the romanceof the Papess, the same expressions occur 
as in the Mayence edition ; whence it follows that 
(according to the intention of Anastasius, violated 
by the rashness of those who have mingled with it 
their idle dreams) it is absolutely impossible that 
any one could have been Pope between Leo IV. 
and Benedict III., for he says ; — ^ After the prelate 
Leo was withdrawn from this world, at once (mox) 
all the clergy, the nobles, and people of Rome 
hastened to elect Benedict ; and at once (illico) 

* Familier eclaircissement de la question, &c. Amster- 
dam, 1647-9. 

Antichrist and Pope Joan 181 

they sought him, praying in the Titular Church of 
S. CaUixtus, and having seated him on the ponti- 
fical throne, and signed the decree of his election, 
they sent him to the very-invincible Augusti Lo- 
thair and Louis, and the first of these died on 
29 September, 855, just seventy-four days after the 
death of Pope Leo.' " 

Bayle in his Dictionnaire historique et critique, 
under the article Papesse Jeanne, says : " Is it not 
true that if we found in a manuscript a statement 
that the Emperor Ferdinand IL died in the year 
1637, and that at once he was succeeded by 
Ferdinand III., and that Charles VI. succeeded 
Ferdinand 1 1., and held the throne for two years, 
after which Ferdinand III., was elected Emperor, 
we should say that the same writer could not have 
made both statements, and that we were neces- 
sitated to attribute to copyists without judgment 
the statements which do not correspond 1 Would 
not the man be a fool who related that Innocent X. 
having died, he was promptly given as successor 
Alexander VIL, and that Innocent XL was Pope 
immediately after Innocent X., and sat for two 
years and more, and that Alexander VI I. succeeded 
him ? Anastasius Bibliothecarius must have com- 
mitted a like extravagance, if he was the author of 

182 Antichrist and Pope Joan 

what occurs in the MSS. of his work which mention 
the Papess. We however conclude that the state- 
ment concerning this woman was an insertion of a 
later hand." 

Sarran, a zealous and learned Protestant, formed 
the same opinion of the Pope-Joan fable, and he 
gives as his reason for believing it not to have 
stood in the original copies of Anastasius, that it is 
there inserted with the words, " It is said that," or 
"we are assured that," expressions inconsistent 
with the fact that Anastasius was a contemporary 
resident in Rome ^ 

Marianus Scotus, the next authority cited for the 
story of Pope Joan, died in 1086. He was a monk 
of S. Martin of Cologne, then of Fulda, and lastly, 
of S. Alban's, at Metz. How could he have 
obtained reliable information, or seen documents 
upon which to ground the assertion ? The words 
in which the tale is alluded to in his Chronicle vary 
in different MSS., in some the fact is asserted 
plainly ; in others, it is founded on an tct asseritur; 
and other MS. copies have not the passage in 
them at all. This looks as though the Pope-Joan 
passage were an interpolation. Next to Marianus 
Scotus comes Sigebert de Gemblours, who died 
' Sarran, Epist. cii., Utrecht, 1697. 

Antichrist and Pope Joan 183 

II 12. We have evidence conclusive that his 
Chronicle has been tampered with in this particular. 
The Gemblours MS., which was either written by 
Sigebert himself, or was a copy made from his, 
does not allude to Pope Joan. Several other early 
copies have not the passage. Guillaume de 
Nangiac, who wrote a Chronicle to the year 1302, 
transcribed, and absorbed into his work, the more 
ancient chronicle of Sigebert. The copy used by 
Guillaume de Nangiac must have been without 
the disputed paragraph, for it is not to be found in 
his work. We are therefore reduced to Martin 
Polonus (d. 1379), placing more than four centuries 
between him and the event he records. 

The historical discrepancies are sufficiently glaring 
to make the story more than questionable. 

Leo IV. died on the 17th July, 855 ; and Benedict 
III. was consecrated on the ist September in 
the same year ; so that it is impossible to insert 
between their pontificates a reign of two years, five 
months, and four days. It is, however, true that 
there was an antipope elected upon the death of 
Leo, at the instance of the Emperor Louis, but his 
name was Anastasius. This man possessed himself 
of the palace of the Popes, and obtained the incar- 
ceration of Benedict. However, his supporters 

184 Antichrist and Pope yoan 

almost immediately deserted him, and Benedict 
assumed the pontificate. The reign of Benedict 
was only for two years and a half, so that 
Anastasius cannot be the supposed Joan ; nor do 
we hear of any charge brought against him to the 
effect of his being a woman. But the stout parti- 
sans of the Pope-Joan tale assert, on the authority 
of the " Annales Augustani ^," and some other, bul 
late authorities, that the female Pope was John VIIL; 
who consecrated Louis II. of France, and Ethelwolj 
of England. Here again is confusion. Ethelwol 
sent Alfred to Rome in 853, and the youth receivec 
regal unction from the hands of Leo IV. In 85^ 
Ethelwolf visited Rome, it is true, but was not con- 
secrated by the existing Pope, whilst Charles the 
Bald was anointed by John VIIL in 875. John 
VIIL was a Roman, son of Gundus, and an arch- 
deacon of the Eternal City. He assumed the triple 
crown in 872, and reigned till December i8th, 882. 
John took an active part in the troubles of the 
Church under the incursions of the Sarasins, and 
325 letters of his are extant, addressed to the princes 
and prelates of his day. 

Any one desirous of pursuing this examination 

' These Annals were written in i i.rtt. 

Antichrist and Pope Joan 185 

into the untenable nature of the story may find an 
excellent summary of the arguments used on both 
sides in Gieseler, "Lehrbuch," &c., Cunningham's 
trans., vol. ii. pp. 30, 21, or in Bayle, " Dictionnaire," 
tom. iii. art. Papesse. 

The arguments in favour of the myth may be 
seen in Spanheim, "Exercit. de Papa Foemina." 
0pp. tom. ii. p. 577, or in Lenfant, " Histoire de 
la Papesse Jeanne," La Haye, 1736, % vols. i2mo. 

The arguments on the other side may be had in 
" Allatii Confutatio Fabulae de Johanna Papissa," 
Colon. 1645 j ^^ Le Quien, "Oriens Christianus," tom. 
iii. p. 777 ; and in the pages of the Lutheran Hue- 
mann, " Sylloge Diss. Sacras." tom. i. par. ii. p. ^^1 ; 
and Blondel, "Familier eclaircissement de la 
question, si une femme a ete assise au siege papal 
de Rome." Amsterdam, 1647-9. 

The final development of this extraordinary 
story, under the delicate fingers of the German and 
French Protestant controversialists, may not prove 

Joan was the daughter of an English missionary, 
who left England to preach the Gospel to the 
recently converted Saxons. She was born at 
Engelheim, and according to different authors she 
was christened Agnes, Gerberta, Joanna, Margaret, 

186 Antichrist and Pope Joan 

Isabel, Dorothy, or Jutt — the last must have been a 
nickname surely ! She early distinguished her- 
self for genius and love of letters. A young monk 
of Fulda having conceived for her a violent passion, 
which she returned with ardour, she deserted her 
parents, dressed herself in male attire, and in the 
sacred precincts of Fulda divided her affections be- 
cweenthe youthful monk and the musty books of the 
monastic library. Not satisfied with the restraints 
of conventual Hfe, nor finding the library sufficiently 
well provided with books of abstruse science, she 
eloped with her young man, and after visiting 
England, France, and Italy, she brought him to 
Athens, where she addicted herself with unflagging 
devotion to her literary pursuits. Wearied out by 
his journey, the monk expired in the arms of the 
blue-stocking who had influenced his life for evil, 
and the young lady of so many aliases was for a 
while inconsolable. She left Athens and repaired 
to Rome. There she opened a school, and acquired 
such a reputation for learning and feigned sanctity 
that, on the death of Leo IV., she was unanimously 
elected Pope. For two years and five months, 
under the name of John VIIL, she filled the papal 
chair with reputation, no one suspecting her sex. 
But having taken a fancy to one of the cardinals, 

A n tichrist and Pope Joan 187 

by him she became pregnant. At length arrived 
the time of Rogation processions. Whilst passing 
the street between the amphitheatre and S. Cle- 
ment's, she was seized with violent pains, fell to the 
ground amidst the crowd, and whilst her attendants 
ministered to her, was delivered of a son. Some 
say the child and mother died on the spot, some 
that she survived but was incarcerated, some that 
the child was spirited away to be the Antichrist of 
the last days. A marble monument representing 
the papess with her baby was erected on the spot, 
which was declared to be accursed to all ages. 

I have little doubt myself that Pope Joan is an 
impersonification of the great whore of Revelation, 
seated on the seven hills, and is the popular expres* 
sion of the idea prevalent from the twelfth to the 
sixteenth centuries, that the mystery of iniquity 
was somehow working in the papal court. The 
scandal of the Antipopes, the utter worldliness 
and pride of others, the spiritual fornication with 
the kings of the earth, along with the words of 
Revelation prophesying the advent of an adulterous 
woman who should rule over the imperial city, and 
her connexion with Antichrist, crystallized into this 
curious myth, much as the floating uncertainty as 
to the signification of our Lord's words, " There be 

188 Antichrist ana Pope Joan 

some standing here which shall not taste of death 
till they see the kingdom of God," condensed into 
the myth of the Wandering Jew. 

The literature connected with Antichrist is 
voluminous. I need only specify some of the most 
curious works which have appeared on the subject. 
S. Hippolytus and Rabanus Maurus have been^H 
already alluded to. Commodianus wrote " Carmen ' 
Apologeticum ad versus Gentes," which has beei 
published by Dom Pitra in his " Spicilegium Soles-j 
mense," with an introduction containing Jewish an( 
Christian traditions relating to Antichrist. "D< 
Turpissima Conceptione, Nativitate, et aliis Prse- 
sagiis Diaboliciis illius Turpissimi Hominis Anti- 
christi," is the title of a strange little volume pub- 
lished by Lenoir in A.D. 1500, containing rude yet 
characteristic woodcuts, representing the birth, life, 
and death of the Man of Sin, each picture accom- 
panied by French verses in explanation. An 
equally remarkable illustrated work on Antichrist 
is the famous " Liber de Antichristo," a blockbook 
of an early date. It is in twenty-seven folios, and 
is excessively rare. Dibdin has reproduced three 
of the plates in his "Bibliotheca Spenseriana," 
and Falckenstein has given full details of the work 
in his " Geschichte der Buchdruckerkunst." 

A ntichrist and Pope Joan 189 

There Is an Easter miracle-play of the twelfth 
century, still extant, the subject of which is the 
" Life and Death of Antichrist." More curious still 
is the " Farce de I'Antechrist et de trois femmes," a 
composition of the sixteenth century, when that 
mysterious personage occupied all brains. The 
farce consists in a scene at a fish-stall, with three 
good ladies quarrelling over some fish. Antichrist 
steps in — for no particular reason that one can see 
—upsets fish and fish-women, sets them fighting, 
and skips off the stage. The best book on Anti- 
christ, and that most full of learning and judgment, 
is Malvenda's great work in two folio volumes, " De 
, Antichristo, libri xii." Lyons, 1647. 

For the fable of the Pope Joan, see J. Lenfant, 
Histoire de la Papesse Jeanne." La Haye, 1736, 
% vols. i2mo. "Allatii Confutatio Fabulse de 
Johanna Papissa." Colon. 1645. 

CJe Mm in tje Mom 

From L. Ricbter. 

I "VERY one knows that the moon is inhabitec 
-*^^ by a man with a bundle of sticks on his 
back, who has been exiled thither for many centu- 
ries, and who is so far off that he is beyond the 
reach of Death. 

He has once visited this earth, if the nursery 
rhyme is to be credited, when it asserts that — 

" The Man in the Moon 
Came down too soon, 
And asked his way to Norwich ;" 

but whether he ever reached that city, the same 
authority docs not state. 

The Man in the Moon 191 

The story as told by nurses is, that this man was 
found by Moses gathering sticks on a Sabbath, and 
that, for this crime, he was doomed to reside in the 
moon till the end of all things ; and they refer to 
Numbers xv. 32 — ^fi ■ 

"And while the children of Israel were in the 
wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks 
upon the sabbath day. And they that found him 
gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and 
Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they 
put him in ward, because it was not declared what 
should be done to him. And the Lord said unto 
Moses, The man shall be surely put to death : all 
the congregation shall stone him with stones with- 
out the camp. And all the congregation brought 
him without the camp, and stoned him with stones 
till he died." 

Of course, in the sacred writings there is no 
allusion to the moon. 

The German tale is as follows : — 

Ages ago there went one Sunday morning an 
old man into the wood to hew sticks. He cut a 
faggot and slung it on a stout staff, cast it over 
his shoulder, and began to trudge home with his 
burden. On his way he met a handsome man in 
Sunday suit, walking towards the Church ; this 

193 The Man in the Moon 

man stopped and asked the faggot -bearer, " Do 
you know that this is Sunday on earth, when all 
must rest from their labours ? " 

" Sunday on earth, or Monday in heaven, it is all 
one to me !" laughed the wood-cutter. 

" Then bear your bundle for ever," answered the 
stranger ; " and as you value not Sunday on earth, 
yours shall be a perpetual Moon-day in heaven ; 
and you shall stand for eternity in the moon, a 
warning to all Sabbath-breakers." Thereupon the 
stranger vanished, and the man was caught up with 
his stock and his faggot into the moon, where he 
stands yet. 

The superstition seems to be old in Germany, for 
the full moon is spoken of as wadel, or wedel, a 
faggot. Tobler relates the story thus : *' An arma 
ma- ket alawel am Sonnti holz ufglesa. Do hedem 
der liebe Gott dwahl gloh, ob er lieber wott ider 
sonn verbrenna oder im mo verfriira, do wilier lieber 
inn mo ihi. Dromm siedma no jetz an ma im mo 
inna, wenns wedel ist. Er hed a piischeli uffem 
rogga \" That is to say, he was given the choice of 
burning in the sun, or of freezing in the moon ; he 
chose the latter ; and now at full moon he is to be 

^ Tobler, Appenz. Sprachsbuch. 20. 

The Man in the Moon 198 

seen seated with his bundle of faggots on his 

In Schaumburg-lippe ^ the story goes, that a 
man and a woman stand in the moon, the man 
because he strewed brambles and thorns on the 
church path, so as to hinder people from attending 
Mass on Sunday morning ; the woman because she 
made butter on that day. The man carries his 
bundle of thorns, the woman her butter-tub. A 
similar tale is told in Swabia and in Marken. 
Fischart^ says that there "is to be seen in the 
moon a mannikin who stole wood," and Praetorius, 
in his description of the world ^, that " superstitious 
people assert that the black flecks in the moon are 
a man who gathered wood on a Sabbath, and is 
therefore turned into stone." 

At the time when wishing was of avail, say the 
North Frisians, a man, one Christmas eve, stole 
cabbages from his neighbour's garden. When just 
in the act of walking off with his load, he was 
perceived by the people, who conjured him up 
into the moon. There he stands in the full moon 
to be seen by every body, bearing his load of 
cabbages to all eternity. Every Christmas eve 

' Wolf, Zeitschrift fiir Deut. Myth. i. i68. 

3 Fischart, Garg. 130. ^ Praetorius, i. 447. 


1 94 The Man in the Moon 

he is said to turn round once. Others say 
that he stole willow bows, which he must bear for 

In Silt, the story goes that he was a sheep-stealer, 
who enticed sheep to him with a bundle of cab- 
bages, until, as an everlasting warning to others, 
he was placed in the moon, where he constantly 
holds in his hand a bundle of these vegetables. 

The people of Rantum say that he is a gian 
who at the time of the flow stands in a stoopini 
posture, because he is then taking up water, which 
he pours out on the earth, and thereby causes high 
tide ; but at the time of the ebb he stands erect, 
and rests from his labour, when the water can sub- 
side again*. 

The Dutch household myth is, that the unhappy 
man was caught stealing vegetables. Dante calls 
him Cain : — 

"... Now doth Cain with fork of thorns confine, 
On either hemisphere, touching the wave 
Beneath the towers of Seville. Yesternight 
The moon was round."- 

* Thorpe's " Mythology and Popular Traditions," voL iil 


The Man in the Moon 195 

And again, 

"... Tell, I pray thee, whence the gloomy spots 
Upon this body, which below on earth 
Give rise to talk of Cain in fabling quaint ?" 

Paradise^ cant. ii. 

Chaucer, in the " Testament of Cresside," adverts 
to the man in the moon, and attributes to him the 
same idea of theft. Of Lady Cynthia, or the moon, 
he says : — 


" Her gite was gray and full of spottis blake, 
And on her brest a chorle painted ful even, 
Bering a bush of thornis on his backe, 
Whiche for his theft might clime so ner the heaven.'* 

Ritson, among his "Ancient Songs," gives one 
extracted from a manuscript attributed by Mr. 
Wright to the period of Edward I., on the Man in 
the Moon ; but in very obscure language. The first 
verse, altered into more modern orthography, runs 
as follows : — 

" Man in the Moon stand and stit. 

On his bot-fork his burden he beareth, 
It is much wonder that he do na doun slit, 

For doubt lest he fall he shudd'reth and shivereth. 

" When the frost freezes must chill he bide, 
The thorns be keen his attire so teareth, 
Nis no wight in the world there wot when he syt, 
Ne bote it by the hedge what weeds he weareth." 

O 2 

196 The Man in the Moon 

Alexander Necham, or Nequam, a writer of the 
twelfth century, in commenting on the dispersed 
shadows in the moon, thus alludes to the vulgar 
belief: — " Nonne novisti quid vulgus vocet rusticum 
in luna portantem spinas ? Unde quidam vulgariter 
loquens ait : — 

" Rusticus in Luna, 
Ouem sarcina deprimit una 
Monstrat per opinas 
Nulli prodesse rapinas",'* 

which may be translated thus : " Do you kno' 
what they call the rustic in the moon, who carrie 
the faggot of sticks ? So that one vulgarly speak- 
ing says : — 

" See the rustic in the Moon, 
How his bundle weighs him down ; 
Thus his sticks the truth reveal 
It never profits man to steal." 

Shakspeare refers to the same individual in his 
" Midsummer Night's Dream." Quince the car- 
penter, giving directions for the performance of the 
play of " Pyramus and Thisbe," orders : " One 
must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern, 
and say he comes in to disfigure, or to present, the 
person of Moonshine." And the enacter of this 
part says, "All I have to say is, to tell you that the 

^ Alex. Neckam, De Naturis Rerum. Ed. Wright, p. xviii. 


The Man in the Moon 197 

lantern is the moon ; I the man in the moon ; this 
thorn-bush my thorn-bush ; and this dog my dog." 
Also " Tempest," Act 2, Scene i : — 

" Cal. Hast thou not dropt from heav'n ? 

" Steph. Out o' th' moon, I do assure thee. I was the man 
in th' moon when time was. 

" Cal. I have seen thee in her; and I do adore thee. My 
mistress show'd me thee, and thy dog, and thy bush." 

The dog I have myself had pointed out to me by 
an old Devonshire crone. If popular superstition 
places a dog in the moon, it puts a' lamb in the 
sun ; for in the same county it is said that those 
who see the sun rise on Easter-day may behold in 
the orb the lamb and flag. 

I believe this idea of locating animals in the two 
great luminaries of heaven to be very ancient, and 
to be a relic of a primeval superstition of the Aryan 

There is an ancient pictorial representation of 
our friend the Sabbath-breaker in Gyffyn Church, 
near Conway. The roof of the chancel is divided 
into compartments, in four of which are the Evan- 
gelistic symbols, rudely, yet effectively painted. 
Besides these symbols is delineated in each com- 
partment an orb of heaven. The sun, the moon, 
and two stars, are placed at the feet of the Angel, 


The Man in the Mooft 

the Bull, the Lion, and the Eagle. The represen- 
tation of the moon is as below ; in the disk is the 

conventional man with his bundle of sticks, bi 
without the dog. There is also a curious se? 
appended to a deed preserved in the Record Office, 

dated the 9th year of Edward the Third (1335), 
bearing the man in the moon as its device. The 

The Man in the Moon 199 

deed is one of conveyance of a messuage, barn, and 
four acres of ground, in the parish of Kingston-on- 
Thames, from Walter de Grendesse, clerk, to Mar- 
garet his mother. On the seal we see the man 
carrying his sticks, and the moon surrounds him. 
There are also a couple of stars added, perhaps to 
show that he is in the sky. The legend on the seal 
reads : — 

• " Te Waltere docebo 

cur spinas phebo 

which may be translated, " I will teach thee, Walter, 
why I carry thorns in the moon." 

The carved wooden sign of the " Man in the 
Moon," in Wych Street, Strand, a rare example of 
the suspended signs now to be found built into the 
wall, must not pass unnoticed. Other items con- 
nected with lunar mythology must be only briefly 
alluded to. According to the classic tale the 
figure in the moon is probably Endymion, be- 
loved of Selene, and held by her passionately to 
her bosom. The Egyptian representations of the 
moon with a figure in the disk, represent the 
little Horus in the womb of his mother Isis. 
Plutarch wrote a tract on the Face in the Moon. 

200 The Man in the Moon 

Clemens Alexandrinus tells us the face is that of a 

The general superstition with regard to the spots 
in the moon may briefly be summed up thus : A 
man is located in the moon ; he is a thief or Sab- 
bath-breaker ; he has a pole over his shoulder, 
from which is suspended a bundle of sticks or 
thorns. In some places a woman is believed to 
accompany him, and she has a butter-tub with her i^ 
in other localities she is replaced by a dog. 

The belief in the Moon-man seems to exisf 
among the natives of British Columbia ; for I reac 
in one of Mr. Duncan's letters to the Church Misi 
sionary Society : — " One very dark night I was tok 
that there was a moon to see on the beach. On 
going to see, there was an illuminated disk, with 
the figure of a man upon it. The water was then 
very low, and one of the conjuring parties had lit 
up this disk at the water's edge. They had made it 
of wax with great exactness, and presently it was 
at full. It was an imposing sight. Nothing could 
be seen around it ; but the Indians suppose that 

^ Clemens Alex. Strom. I. 

* Hebel, in his charming poem on the Man in the Moon 
in " Allemanische Gedichte," makes him both thief and 


The Man in the Moon 201 

the medicine party are then holding converse with 
the man in the moon. . . . After a short time the 
moon waned away, and the conjuring party returned 
whooping to their house." 

Now let us turn to Scandinavian mythology, and 
see what we learn from that source. 

Mani, the moon, stole two children from their 
parents, and carried them up to heaven. Their 
names were Hjuki and Bil. They had been draw- 
ing water from the well Byrgir, in the bucket Soegr, 
suspended from the pole Simul, which they bore 
upon their shoulders. These children, pole, and 
bucket, were placed in heaven, "where they could 
be seen from earth." This refers undoubtedly to 
the spots in the moon, and so the Swedish peasantry 
explain these spots to this day, as representing a 
boy and a girl bearing a pail of water between 
them. Are we not reminded at once of our nursery 
rhyme — 

" Jack and Jill went up a hill 
To fetch a pail of water ; 
Jack fell down, and broke his crown, 
And Jill came tumbling after ?" 

This verse, which to us seems at first sight non- 
sense, I have no hesitation in saying has a high 
antiquity, and refers to the Eddaic Hjuki and Bil. 

202 The Man in the Moon 

The names indicate as much. Hjuki, in Norse, 
would be pronounced Juki, which would readily 
become Jack ; and Bil, for the sake of euphony, and 
in order to give a female name to one of the 
children, would become Jill. 

The fall of Jack, and the subsequent fall of Jill, 
simply represent the vanishing of one moon-spot 
after another, as the moon wanes. 

But the old Norse myth had a deeper significa-J 
tion than merely an explanation of the moon-spots. 

Hjuki is derived from the verb jakka, to heap or 
pile together, to assemble and increase ; and Bil \ 
from bila, to break up or dissolve. Hjuki and Bil^ 
therefore, signify nothing more than the waxing 
and waning of the moon, and the water they are 
represented as bearing signifies the fact that the 
rainfall depends on the phases of the moon. 
Waxing and waning were individualized, and the 
meteorological fact of the connexion of the rain 
with the moon was represented by the children as 

But though Jack and Jill became by degrees 
dissevered in the popular mind from the moon, the 
original myth went through a fresh phase, and 
exists still under a new form. The Norse supersti- 
tion attributed theft to the moon and the vulgar 

The Man in the Moon 203 

soon began to believe that the figure they saw in 
the moon was the thief. The lunar specks certainly 
may be made to resemble one figure, but only a 
lively imagination can discern two. The girl soon 
dropped out of popular mythology, the boy oldened 
into a venerable man, he retained his pole, and the 
bucket was transformed into the thing he had 
stolen — sticks or vegetables. The theft was in some 
places exchanged for Sabbath-breaking, especially 
among those in Protestant countries who were 
acquainted with the Bible story of the stick- 

The Indian superstition is worth examining, be- 
cause of the connexion existing between Indian 
and European mythology, on account of our be- 
longing to the same Aryan stock. 

According to a Buddhist legend, Sakyamunni 
himself, in one of his earlier stages of existence, 
was a hare, and lived in friendship with a fox and 
an ape. In order to test the virtue of the Bod- 
hisattwa, Indra came to the friends, in the form of 
an old man asking for food. Hare, ape, and fox 
went forth in quest of victuals for their guest. The 
two latter returned from their foraging expedition 
successful, but the hare had found nothing. Then, 
rather than that he should treat the old man with 

204 The Man in the Moon 

inhospitality, the hare had a fire kindled, and cast 
himself into the flames, that he might himself 
become food for his guest. In reward for this act 
of self-sacrifice, Indra carried the hare to heaven, 
and placed him in the moon ^. 

Here we have an old man and a hare in con- 
nexion with the lunar planet, just as in Shakspeare 
we have a faggot-bearer and a dog. 

The fable rests upon the name of the moon in 
Sanskrit, 9a9in, or " that marked with the hare ;" 
hut whether the belief in the spots taking the shape 
of a hare gave the name 9a9in to the moon, or the 
lunar name 9a9in originated the belief, it is im- 
possible for us to say. 

Grounded upon this myth is the curious story of 
" The Hare and the Elephant," in the " Pantscha- 
tantra," an ancient collection of Sanskrit fables. It 
will be found as the first tale in the third book. I 
have room only for an outline of the story. 


In a certain forest lived a mighty elephant, king 

of a herd. Toothy by name. On a certain occasion 

3 " Memoires . . . par Hjouen Thsang, traduits du Chinois 
par Stanislas Julien," i. 375. Upham, "Sacred Books of^ 
Ceylon," iii. 309. 

The Man in the Moo7t 205 

there was a long drought, so that pools, tanks, 
swamps, and lakes were dried up. Then the ele- 
phants sent out exploring parties in search of water. 
A young one discovered an extensive lake sur- 
rounded with trees, and teeming with water-fowl. 
It went by the name of the Moon-lake. The 
elephants, delighted at the prospect of having an 
inexhaustible supply of water, marched off to the 
spot, and found their most sanguine hopes realized. 
Round about the lake, in the sandy soil, were 
innumerable hare warrens, and as the herd of 
elephants trampled on the ground, the hares were 
severely injured, their homes broken down, their 
heads, legs, and backs crushed beneath the pon- 
derous feet of the monsters of the forest. As soon 
as the herd had withdrawn, the hares assembled, 
some halting, some dripping with blood, some 
bearing the corpses of their cherished infants, some 
with piteous tales of ruination in their houses, all 
with tears streaming from their eyes, and wailing 
forth, " Alas, we are lost ! The elephant-herd will 
return, for there is no water elsewhere, and that will 
be the death of all of us." 

But the wise and prudent Longear volunteered 
to drive the herd away, and he succeeded in this 
manner : Longear went to the elephants, and 

206 The Man in the Moon 

having singled out their king, he addressed him as 
follows : — 

" Ha, ha ! bad elephant ! what brings you with 
such thoughtless frivoHty to this strange lake? 
back with you at once !" 

When the king of the elephants heard this, he 
asked in astonishment, "Pray who are you ?" 

" I," replied Longear, " I am Vidschajadatta by 
name, the hare who resides in the Moon. Now am, 
I sent by his Excellency the Moon as an ambas- 
sador to you. I speak to you in the name of thej 

" Ahem ! Hare," said the elephant, somewhat 
staggered, "and what message have you brought 
me from his Excellency the Moon?" 

"You have this day injured several hares. Are 
you not aware that they are the subjects of me ? 
If you value your life, venture not near the lake 
again. Break my command, and I shall withdraw 
my beams from you at night, and your bodies will 
be consumed with perpetual sun." 

The elephant after a short meditation said, 
" Friend ! it is true that I have acted against the 
rights of the excellent Majesty of the Moon. I 
should wish to make an apology ; how can I do 

The Man in the Moon 207 

The hare replied, " Come along with me, and I 
will show you." 

The elephant asked, "Where is his Excellency 
at present ?" 

The other replied, " He is now in the lake, 
hearing the complaints of the maimed hares." 

"If that be the case," said the elephant humbly, 
" bring me to my lord, that I may tender him my 

So the hare conducted the king of the elephants 
to the edge of the lake, and showed him the re- 
flexion of the moon in the water, saying, "There 
stands our lord in the midst of the water, plunged 
in meditation ; reverence him with devotion, and 
then depart with speed." 

Thereupon the elephant poked his proboscis Into 
the water, and muttered a fervent prayer. By so 
doing he set the water in agitation, so that the 
reflection of the moon was all of a quiver. 

"Look!" exclaimed the hare, "his Majesty is 
trembling with rage at you !" 

" Why is his supreme Excellency enraged with 
me .'*" asked the elephant. 

"Because you have set the water in motion. 
Worship him, and then be ofl"!" 

The elephant let his ears droop, bowed his great 

208 The Man in the Moon 

head to the earth, and after having expressed in 
suitable terms his regret for having annoyed the 
Moon and the hare dwelling in it, he vowed never 
to trouble the Moon-lake again. Then he departed, 
and the hares have ever since lived there unmo- 

f:t)e if^ountain of Vtnm 

RAGGED, bald, and desolate, as though a curse 
rested upon it, rises the Horselberg* out of 
the rich and populous land between Eisenach and 
Gotha, looking, from a distance, like a huge stone 
sarcophagus — a sarcophagus in which rests in magi- 
cal slumber, till the end of all things, a mysterious 
world of wonders. 

High up on the north-west flank of the mountain, 
in a precipitous wall of rock, opens a cavern, called 
the Horselloch, from the depths of which issues a 
muffled roar of water, as though a subterraneous 
stream were rushing over rapidly-whirling mill- 
wheels. "When I have stood alone on the ridge 
of the mountain," says Bechstein, "after having 
sought the chasm in vain, I have heard a mighty 
rush, like that of falling water, beneath my feet, 
and after scrambling down the scarp, have found 


£10 The Mountain of Venus 

myself — how, I never knew — in front of the cave." 
(" Sagenschatz des Thiiringes-landes," 1835.) 

In ancient days, according to the Thiiringian 
Chronicles, bitter cries and long-drawn moans 
were heard issuing from this cavern ; and at night 
wild shrieks, and the burst of diabolical laughter 
would ring out from it over the vale, and fill the 
inhabitants with terror. It was supposed that this 
hole gave admittance to Purgatory ; and tl 
popular but faulty derivation of Horsel was Hc^ 
die Seek, Hark, the Souls ! 

But another popular belief respecting this moui 
tain was, that in it Venus, the pagan Goddess 
Love, held her court in all the pomp and revelry 
heathendom ; and there were not a few who 
declared that they had seen fair forms of female 
beauty beckoning them from the mouth of the 
chasm, and that they had heard dulcet strains of 
music well up from the abyss above the thunder of 
the falling, unseen torrent. Charmed by the music, 
and allured by the spectral forms, various indivi- 
duals had entered the cave, and none had returned 
except the Tanhauser, of whom more anon. Still 
does the Horselberg go by the name of the Venus- 
berg, a name frequently used in the Middle Ages, 
but without its locality being always defined. 

The Mountain of Vemis 211 

" In 1398, at mid-day, there appeared suddenly 
three great fires in the air, which presently ran 
together into one globe of flame, parted again 
and finally sank into the Horselberg," says the 
Thiiringian Chronicle. 

And now for the story of Tanhauser. 

A French knight was riding over the beauteous 
meadows in the Horsel vale on his way to Wart- 
burg, where the Landgrave Hermann was holding 
a gathering of minstrels, who were to contend in 
song for a prize. 

Tanhauser was a famous minnesinger, and all 
his lays were of love and of women, for his heart 
was full of passion, and that not of the purest and 
noblest description. 

It was towards dusk that he passed the cliff in 
which is the Horselloch, and as he rode by, he saw 
a white glimmering figure of matchless beauty 
standing before him, and beckoning him to her. 
He knev/ her at once, by her attributes and by 
her superhuman perfection, to be none other than 
Venus. As she spake to him the sweetest strains 
of music floated in the air, a soft roseate light 
glowed around her, and nymphs of exquisite loveli- 
ness scattered roses at her feet. A thrill of passion 
ran through the veins of the minnesinger; and, 
P 2 

212 The Mountain of Venus 

leaving his horse, he followed the apparition. It 
led him up the mountain to the cave, and as it 
went flowers bloomed upon the soil, and a radiant 
track was left for Tanhauser to follow. He entered 
the cavern, and descended to the palace of Venus 
in the heart of the mountain. 

Seven years of revelry and debauch were passed, 
and the minstrel's heart began to feel a strange 
void. The beauty, the magnificence, the variet] 
of the scenes in the pagan goddess's home, and 
its heathenish pleasures, palled upon him, and 
yearned for the pure fresh breezes of earth, oi 
look up at the dark night sky spangled with stai 
one glimpse of simple mountain flowers, one tinkl? 
of sheep-bells. At the same time his conscience 
began to reproach him, and he longed to make his 
peace with God. In vain did he entreat Venus to 
permit him to depart, and it was only when in the 
bitterness of his grief he called upon the Virgin- 
Mother, that a rift in the mountain-side appeared 
to him, and he stood again above ground. 

How sweet was the morning air, balmy with the 
scent of hay, as it rolled up the mountain to him, 
and fanned his haggard cheek ! How delightful to 
him was the cushion of moss and scanty grass after 
the downy couches of the palace of revelry below I 

The Mount atJt of Venus 213 

He plucked the little heather-bells and held them 
before him ; the tears rolled from his eyes, and 
moistened his thin and wasted hands. He looked 
up at the soft blue sky and the newly-risen sun, 
and his heart overflowed. What were the golden 
jewel-incrusted, lamp-lit vaults beneath to that 
pure dome of God's building ! 

The chime of a village church struck sweetly on 
his ear, satiated with Bacchanalian songs ; and he 
hurried down the mountain to the church which 
called him. There he made his confession, but the 
priest, horror-struck at his recital, dared not give 
him absolution, but passed him on to another. 
And so he went from one to another, till at last he 
was referred to the Pope himself To the Pope he 
went. Urban IV. then occupied the chair of 
S. Peter. To him Tanhauser related the sickening 
story of his guilt, and prayed for absolution. 
Urban was a hard and stern man, and shocked at 
the immensity of the sin, he thrust the penitent 
indignantly from him, exclaiming, " Guilt such as 
thine can never, never be remitted. Sooner shall 
this staff in my hand grow green and blossom, than 
that God should pardon thee !" 

Then Tanhauser, full of despair, and with his 
soul darkened, went away, and returned to the 

214 The Mountain of Venus 

only asylum open to him, the Venusberg. But lo ! 
three days after he had gone, Urban discovered 
that his pastoral staff had put forth buds, and had 
burst into flower. Then he sent messengers after 
Tanhauser, and they reached the Horsel vale to 
hear that a wayworn man, with haggard brow and 
bowed head, had just entered the Horselldch. 
Since then the Tanhauser has not been seen\ 

Such is the sad yet beautiful story of Tanhauser*] 
It is a very ancient myth Christianized, a wide* 
spread tradition localized. Originally heathen, it 
has been transformed, and has acquired new beautj 
by an infusion of Christianity. Scattered ovei 
Europe, it exists in various forms, but in none s( 
graceful as that attached to the Horselberg. There 
are, however, other Venusbergs in Germany : as, 
for instance, in Swabia, near Waldsee ; another 
near Ufhausen, at no great distance from Freiburg 
(the same story is told of this Venusberg as of the 
Horselberg) ; in Saxony there is a Venusberg not 
far from Wolkenstein. Paracelsus speaks of a 
Venusberg in Italy, referring to that in which 
^neas Sylvius (Ep. i6) says Venus or a Sibyl 

^ Proetorius, Blocksberg, Leipzig, 1668. Grimm, Deutsche 
Sagen, Berlin, 1866, I. p. 214. Bechstein, Thuringische 
Marchenschatz, 1835. 

The Mountain of Venus 215 

resides, occupying a cavern, and assuming once a 
week the form of a serpent. Geiler v. Keysersperg, 
a quaint old preacher of the fifteenth century, 
speaks of the witches assembling on the Venus 
berg, but does not say where it is. 

The story, either in prose or verse, has often been 
printed. Some of the earliest editions are the 
following : — 

"Das Lied von deni Danhewser." Niirnberg, 
without date; the same, Niirnberg, 1515. — "Das 
Lyedt v. d. Thanheuser." Leyptzk, 1520. — " Das 
Lied V. d. Danheiiser," reprinted by Bechstein, 
1835. — "Das Lied vom edlen Tanheuser, Mons 
Veneris." Frankfort, 1614 ; Leipzig, 1668. — "Twe 
lede volgen Dat erste vam Danhiisser." Without 
date. — "Van heer Danielken." Tantwerpen, 1544. 
— A Danish version in "Nyerup, Danske Viser," 
No. VIII. 

Let us now see some of the forms which this re- 
markable myth assumed in other countries. Every 
popular tale has its root, a root which may be 
traced among different countries, and though the 
accidents of the story may vary, yet the substance 
remains unaltered. It has been said that the 
common people never invent new story-radicals 
any more than we invent new word-roots, and this 

tlQ The Mountain of Venus 

is perfectly true. The same story-root remains, 
but it is varied according to the temperament of 
the narrator or the exigencies of localization. The 
story-root of the Venusberg is this : — 

The underground folk seek union with human 

a. A man is enticed into their abode, where he 
unites with a woman of tne underground 

/8. He desires to revisit the earth, and escapes. 

7. He returns again to the region below. 

Now there is scarcely a collection of folk-loi 
which does not contain a story founded on this" 
root. It appears in every branch of the Aryan 
family, and examples might be quoted from 
Modern Greek, Albanian, Neapolitan, French, 
German, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, Ice- 
landic, Scotch, Welsh, and other collections of 
popular tales. I have only space to mention 

There is a Norse Thattr of a certain Helgi 
Thorir's son, which is, in its present form, a pro- 
duction of the fourteenth century. Helgi and his 
brother Thorstein went a cruise to Finnmark, or 
Lapland. They reached a ness, and found the 
land covered with forest. Helgi explored this 

The Mountain of Venus 217 

forest, and lighted suddenly on a party of red- 
dressed women riding upon red horses. These 
ladies were beautiful and of Troll race. One 
surpassed the others in beauty, and she was their 
mistress. They erected a tent and prepared a 
feast. Helgi observed that all their vessels were 
of silver and gold. The lady, who named herself 
Ingibjorg, advanced towards the Norseman, and 
invited him to live with her. He feasted and lived 
with the Trolls for three days, and then returned 
to his ship, bringing with him two chests of silver 
and gold, which Ingibjorg had given him. He 
had been forbidden to mention where he had been 
and with whom, so he told no one whence he had 
obtained the chests. The ships sailed, and he 
returned home. 

One winter's night Helgi was fetched away from 
home, in the midst of a furious storm, by two 
mysterious horsemen, and no one was able to 
ascertain for many years what had become of him, 
till the prayers of the king, Olaf, obtained his 
release, and then he was restored to his father and 
brother, but he was thenceforth blind. All the time 
of his absence he had been with the red-vested 
lady in her mysterious abode of Glcesisvellir. 

The Scotch story of Thomas of Ercildoune is the 

218 The Mountain of Venus 

same story. Thomas met with a strange lady, of 
elfin race, beneath Eildon Tree, who led him into 
the underground land, where he remained with her 
for seven years. He then returned to earth, still, 
however, remaining bound to come to his royal 
mistress whenever she should summon him. Ac- 
cordingly, while Thomas was making merry with 
his friends in the Tower of Ercildoune, a person 
came running in, and told, with marks of fear and 
astonishment, that a hart and a hind had left the 
neighbouring forest, and were parading the street 
of the village. Thomas instantly arose, left his 
house, and followed the animals into the forest, 
from which he never returned. According to 
popular belief, he still " drees his weird " in Fairy 
Land, and is one day expected to revisit earth. 
(Scott, " Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.") Com- 
pare with this the ancient ballad of Tamlane. 

Debes relates that "it happened a good while! 
since, when the burghers of Bergen had the com- 
merce of the Faroe Isles, that there was a man in 
Serraade, called Jonas Soideman, who was kept by| 
the spirits in a mountain during the space of seven.j 
years, and at length came out, but lived after- 1 
wards in great distress and fear, lest they should 
again take him away ; wherefore people were 

The Mountain of Venus 219] 

obliged to watch him in the night." The same 
author mentions another young man who had been 
carried away, and after his return was removed a 
second time, upon the eve of his marriage. 

Gervase of Tilbury says that " in Catalonia 
there is a lofty mountain, named Cavagum, at the 
foot of which runs a river with golden sands, in the 
vicinity of which there are likewise silver mines. 
This mountain is steep, and almost inaccessible. 
On its top, which is always covered with ice and 
snow, is a black and bottomless lake, into which if 
a stone be cast, a tempest suddenly arises ; and 
near this lake is the portal of the palace of 
demons." He then tells how a young damsel was 
spirited in there and spent seven years with the 
mountain spirits. On her return to earth she was 
thin and withered, with wandering eyes, and almost 
bereft of understanding. 

A Swedish story is to this effect. A young man 
was on his way to his bride, when he was allured 
into a mountain by a beautiful elfin woman. With 
her he. lived forty years, which passed as an hour ; 
on his return to earth all his old friends and relations 
were dead, or had forgotten him, and finding no rest 
there, he returned to his mountain elf-land. 

In Pomerania, a labourer's son, John Dietrich of 

2i^0 The Mountam of Venus 

Rambin, is said to have spent twelve years in the 
underground land. When about eight years old 
he was sent to spend a summer with his uncle, a 
farmer in Rodenkirchen. Here John had to keep 
cows with other boys, and they used to drive them 
to graze about the Nine-hills. There was an old 
cowherd, Klas Starkwolt, who used to join the 
boys, and tell them stories of the underground 
people who dwelt in a glorious land beneath the 
Nine-hills. These tales John swallowed eagerly, 
and could think of little else. One Midsummer 
day he ran to the hills, and laid himself down on 
the top of one of them, where, according to Klas, 
the little people were wont to dance. John lay 
quite still from ten till twelve at night. At last a 
distant tower-clock tolled midnight. Instantly the 
hill was covered with the little people, dancing and 
tossing their caps about. One of these fell near 
John : he caught it, and set it on his head. By the 
acquisition of this cap he had obtained power over 
the elves. When the cock began to crow, a bright 
glass point appeared on the hill-top, and opened. 
John and the people descended, and he found himself 
in a land of wonder. He found that there were in 
that place the most beautiful walks, in which he 
might ramble along for miles in all directions with- 

The Mounfam of Venus 221 

out ever finding an end of them, so immensely 
large was the hill that the Httle people lived in; 
and yet outwardly it seemed but a little hill, with 
a few bushes and trees growing on it. It was 
extraordinary that, between the meads and fields, 
which were thick sown with hills and lakes and 
islands, and ornamented with trees and flowers in 
the greatest variety, there ran, as it were, small 
lanes, through which, as through crystal rocks, one 
was obliged to pass to come to any new place ; 
and the single meads and fields were often a mile 
long, and the flowers were so brilliant and so fragrant, 
and the song of the numerous birds so sweet, that 
John had never seen any thing on earth at all like 
it. There was a breeze, and yet one did not feel 
the wind ; it was quite clear and bright, and yet 
there was no heat, no sun, no moon ; the waves 
dashed about, but there was no danger; and the 
most beautiful little barks and canoes came, like 
white swans, when one wanted to cross the water, 
and went backwards and forwards of themselves. 
Whence all this came no one knew, nor could his 
servant tell any thing about it ; but one thing John 
saw plainly, which was, that the large carbuncles 
and diamonds that were set in the roof and walls 
gave light instead of the sun, moon, and stars. 

222 The Moimtaiii of Venus 

Here John found a little maiden, Elizabeth Krab- 
bin, daughter of the minister of Rambin, who had 
been spirited away by the little people a few years 
before. John and she soon formed an attachment, 
and were wont to walk together. On one of their 
strolls they must have approached the surface, for 
they heard the crowing of a cock. At the sound, 
the remembrance of earth returned to them, and 
they felt a desire once more to be on Christian land. 
" Every thing down here," said Elizabeth, " is beau- 
tiful, and the little folk are kind, but there is not 
pure pleasure here. Every night I dream of my 
father and mother, and of our churchyard; and I 
cannot go to the House of God, and worship Him 
as a Christian should ; for this is no Christian life we 
lead down here, but a delusive, half-heathen one." 

John, however, could not release Elizabeth from 
the power of the underground folk till he found a 
toad, the sight and smell of which was so repulsive 
to them, that they readily complied with every 
request of John, on condition he should bury the 
offensive reptile. 

Then he and the girl escaped, taking with them 
gold and silver and jewels, to such an amount, that 
their fortune was made. They were, of course, 
married ; and John bought up half the island of 

The Mountain of Venus 223 

Riigen, was ennobled, built and endowed the pre 
sent church of Rambin, and became the founder o*! 
a powerful family. To the altar of Rambin he gave 
some of the cups and plates of gold made by the 
underground people, and his own and Elizabeth's 
glass shoes which they had worn in the mount. 
But these were taken away in the time of Charles 
XII. of Sweden, when the Russians came on the 
island, and the Cossacks plundered the churches ^ 

In the year 1520, there lived at Basle, in Switzer- 
land, a tailor's son, named Leonard. He entered a 
cave which penetrated far into the bowels of the 
earth, holding a consecrated taper in his hand. 
He came to an enchanted land, where was a beau- 
tiful woman wearing a golden crown, but from her 
waist downwards she was a serpent. She gave 
him gold and silver, and entreated him to kiss her 
three times. He complied twice, but the writhing 
of her tail so horrified him, that he fled without 
giving her the third kiss. Afterwards he prowled 
about the mountains, seeking the entrance to the 
cave, filled with a craving for the society of the 
lady, but he never could find it again \ 

" Keightley's Fairy Mythology, i860, p. 178. 
2 Komemann, Mons Veneris, c. 34. Proetorius, Weltbe- 
schreibung, p. 661, 

224? TJie Mountahi of Vcntis 

There is a curious story told by Fordun in his 
" Scotichronicon," by Matthew of Westminster in 
his Chronicle, and by Roger of Wendover in his 
" Flowers of History," which has some interest in 
connexion with the legend of the Tanhiiuser. They 
relate that in the year 1050, a youth of noble birth 
had been married in Rome, and during the nuptial 
feast, being engaged in a game of ball, he took off 
his wedding-ring, and placed it on the finger of a 
statue of Venus. When he wished to resume it, he 
found that the stony hand had become clenched, 
so that it was impossible to remove the ring. 
Thenceforth he was haunted by the G oddess Venus, 
who constantly whispered in his ear, " Embrace me ; 
I am Venus, whom you have wedded ; I will never 
restore your ring." However, by the assistance of 
a priest, she was at length forced to give it up to 
its rightful owner. 

This story occurs also in Vincent of Beauvais, 
whose version will be found in the Appendix''. 
CsEsarius of Heisterboch has also a story bear- 
ing a relation to that of Venus and the ring. 
A certain Clerk Phillip, a great necromancer, 
took some Swabian and Bavarian youths to a 

•• Appendix B. Vincent. Bellov. I. 36, Spec. Historiale. 
Antonini Summa Histor. P. II,, tit. 16. 

The Mountain of Venus 225 

lonely spot in a field, where, at their desire, he 
proceeded to perform incantations. First he drew 
a circle round them with his sword, and warned 
them on no consideration to leave the ring. Then 
retiring from them a little space he began his incan- 
tations, and suddenly there appeared around the 
youths a multitude of armed men, brandishing 
weapons, and daring them to fight. The demons, 
failing to draw them by this means from their 
enchanted circle, vanished, and then there was seen 
a company of beautiful damsels, dancing about the 
ring, and by their attitudes alluring the youths 
towards them. One of these, exceeding the others 
in beauty and grace, singled out a youth, and 
dancing before him, extended to him a ring of 
gold, casting languishing glances towards him, and 
by all means in her power endeavouring to attract 
his attention, and kindle his passion. The young 
man, unable any longer to resist, put forth his 
finger beyond the circle to the ring, and the 
apparition at once drew him towards her and 
vanished along with him. However, after much 
trouble, the necromancer was able to recover him 
from the embraces of the evil spirit \ 

* Caesarius Heister. V. 4. 

226 The Moimtain of Venus 

Another mediaeval story is founded on the same 
myth, but purified and Christianized. A knight is 
playing at ball, and incommoded by his ring. He 
therefore removes it, and places it for safety on 
the finger of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
On seeking it again he finds the hand of the figure 
clasped, and he is unable to recover his ring. 
Whereupon the knight renounces the world, and as 
the betrothed of the Virgin enters a monastery ^ 

The incident of the ring in connexion with tl 
ancient goddess is certainly taken from the o\\ 
religion of the Teutonic and Scandinavian people 
Freyja was represented in her temples holding ^ 
ring in her hand ; so was Thorgerda Horgabnida. 
The Faereyinga Saga relates an event in the life of 
the Faroese hero, Sigmund Brestesson, which is to 
the point. "They (Earl Hakon and Sigmund) 
went to the temple, and the earl fell on the ground 
before her statue, and there he lay long. The 
statue was richly dressed, and had a heavy gold 
ring on the arm. And the earl stood up and 
touched the ring, and tried to remove it, but could 
not ; and it seemed to Sigmund as though she 
frowned. Then the earl said, ' She is not pleased 

* Wolf, Beitrage z. deut. Myth. Gottingen, 1857, II., p. 257. 

The Mountain of Venus 227 

with thee, Sigmund ! and I do not know whether I 
shall be able to reconcile you ; but that shall be 
the token of her favour, if she gives us the ring, 
which she has in her hand.' Then the earl took 
much silver, and laid it on the footstool before 
her ; and again he flung himself prostrate before 
her, and Sigmund noticed that he wept profusely. 
And when he stood up he took the ring, and she 
let go of it. Then the earl gave it to Sigmund, 
and said, ' I give thee this ring to thy weal, never 
part with it' And Sigmund promised he would 
not'." This ring is the death of the Faroese chief. 
In after years. King Olaf, who converts him to 
Christianity, knowing that this gold ring is a relic 
of Paganism, asks Sigmund to give it him. The 
chief refuses, and the king angrily pronounces a 
warning that it will be the cause of his death. 
And his word falls true, for Sigmund is murdered 
in his sleep for the sake of the ring. 

Unquestionably the Venus of the Horselberg, of 
Basle, of the Eildon Hill, that of whom Fordun, 
Vincent, and Caesarius relate such weird tales, is 
the ancient goddess Holda, or Thorgerda ; a con- 

'^ Faereyinga Saga. Copenhagen, 1832, p. 103 ; and Forn- 
manna Sogur, II., cap. 184. 

Q 2 

228 The Mountain of Venus 

elusion to which the stories of the ring naturally 
lead us. 

The classic legend of Ulysses held captive for 
eight years by the nymph Calypso in the island of 
Ogygia, and again for one year by the enchantress 
Circe, contains the root of the same story of the 

What may have been the significance of the 
primeval story-radical it is impossible for us now to 
ascertain ; but the legend, as it shaped itself in the 
Middle Ages, is certainly indicative of the struggle 
between the new and the old faith. 

We see thinly veiled in Tanhauser, the story of 
a man. Christian in name, but heathen at heart, 
allured by the attractions of Paganism, which seems 
to satisfy his poetic instincts, and which gives full 
rein to his passions. But these excesses pall on 
him after a while, and the religion of sensuality 
leaves a great void in his breast. 

He turns to Christianity, and at first it seems to 
promise all that he requires. But alas ! he is 
repelled by its ministers. On all sides he is met by 
practice widely at variance with profession. Pride, 
worldliness, want of sympathy, exist among those 
who should be the foremost to guide, sustain, and 
receive him. All the warm springs which gushed 

The Mountai7i of Vemis 229 

up in his broken heart are choked, his softened 
spirit is hardened again, and he returns in despair 
to bury his sorrows, and drown his anxieties, in the 
debauchery of his former creed. 

A sad picture, but doubtless one very true. 


T N that charming mediaeval romance, Fortunatui 
-■- and his Sons, which, by the way, is a treasui 
of Popular Mythology, is an account of a visit paid 
by the favoured youth to that cave of mystery in 
Lough Derg, the Purgatory of S. Patrick. 

Fortunatus, we are told, had heard in his travels 
of how two days' journey from the town, Valdric, 
in Ireland, was a town, Vernic, where was the 
entrance to the Purgatory ; so thither he went with 
many servants. He found a great abbey, and 
behind the altar of the church a door, which led 
into the dark cave which is called the Purgatory 
of S. Patrick. In order to enter it, leave had to 
be obtained from the abbot ; consequently, Leo- 
pold, servant to Fortunatus, betook himself to that 
worthy, and made known to him that a nobleman 
from Cyprus desired to enter the mysterious cavern. 

S. Patrick's Purgatory 231 

The abbot at once requested Leopold to bring his 
master to supper with him. Fortunatus bought a 
large jar of wine, and sent it as a present to the 
monastery, and followed at the meal time. 

"Venerable sir!" said Fortunatus, "I understand 
the Purgatory of S. Patrick is here ; is it so ?" 

The abbot replied, " It is so indeed. Many 
hundred years ago, this place, where stand the 
abbey and the town, was a howling wilderness. 
Not far off, however, lived a venerable hermit, 
Patrick by name, who often sought the desert for 
the purpose of therein exercising his austerities. 
One day he lighted on this cave, which is of vast 
extent He entered it, and wandering on in the 
dark, lost his way, so that he could no more find 
how to return to the light of day. After long ram- 
blings through the gloomy passages, he fell on his 
knees, and besought Almighty God, if it were His 
will, to deliver him from the great peril wherein he 
lay. Whilst Patrick thus prayed, he was ware of 
piteous cries issuing from the depths of the cave, 
just such as would be the wailings of souls in 
purgatory. The hermit rose from his orison, and 
by God's mercy found his way back lO the surface, 
and from that day exercised greater austerities, 
and after his death he was numbered with the 

232 S. Patrick's Purgatory 

saints. Pious people, who had heard the story of 
Patrick's adventure in the cave, built this cloister 
on the site." 

Then Fortunatus asked whether all v/ho ventured 
into the place heard likewise the howls of the tor- 
mented souls. 

The abbot replied, " Some have affirmed that 
they have heard a bitter crying and piping therein 
whilst others have heard and seen nothing. N< 
one, however, has penetrated, as yet, to the furthesj 
limits of the cavern." 

Fortunatus then asked permission to enter, an( 
the abbot cheerfully consented, only stipulating" 
that his guest should keep near the entrance, and 
not ramble too far, as some who had ventured in 
had never returned. 

Next day, early, Fortunatus received the Blessed 
Sacrament with his trusty Leopold ; the door 
of the Purgatory was unlocked, each was pro- 
vided with a taper, and then with the blessing of 
the abbot they were left in total darkness, and the 
door bolted behind them. Both wandered on in" 
the cave, hearing faintly the chanting of the monks 
in the church, till the sound died away. They 
traversed several passages, lost their way, their 
candles burned out, and they sat down in de- 

5. Patrick's Purgatory 233 

spair on the ground, a prey to hunger, thirst, and 

The monks waited in the church hour after hour ; 
and the visitors of the Purgatory had not returned. 
Day dechned, vespers were sung, and still there 
was no sign of the two who in the morning had 
passed from the church into the cave. Then the 
servants of Fortunatus began to exhibit anger, and 
to insist on their master being restored to them. 
The abbot was frightened, and sent for an old man 
who had once penetrated far into the cave, with a 
ball of twine, the end attached to the door handle. 
This man volunteered to seek Fortunatus, and pro- 
videntially his search was successful. After this 
the abbot refused permission to any one to visit 
the cave. 

In the reign of Henry II. lived Henry of Saltrey, 
who wrote a history of the visit of a Knight Owen 
to the Purgatory of S. Patrick, which gained im- 
mense popularity. Henry was a monk of the 
Benedictine Abbey of Saltrey, in Huntingdonshire, 
and received his story from Gilbert, Abbot of 
Louth, who is said by some to have also published 
a written account of the extraordinary visions of 
Owen\ This account was soon translated into 
* Biograph. Brit. Lit.; Anglo-Norm. Period, p. 321. 

234 6". Patrick's Purgatory 

other languages, and spread the fable through 
mediaeval Europe. It was this work of Henry of 
Saltrey which first made known the virtues of the 
mysterious cave of Lough Derg. Marie of France 
translated it into French metre, but hers was not 
the only version in that tongue ; in English there 
are two versions. In one of these, " Owayne Miles," 
H. S. Cotton. Calig. A. ii., fol. 89, the origin of the 
purgatory is thus described : — 

" Holy byschoppes some tyme ther were, 
That tawgte me of Goddes lore. 
In Irlonde preched Seyn Patryke, 
In that londe was non hym lyke : 
He prechede Goddes worde full wyde, 
And tolde men what shullde betyde. 
Fyrste he preched of Heven blysse, 
Who ever go thyder may ryght nowgt mysse : 
Sethen he preched of Hell pyne, 
Howe wo them ys that cometh therinne : 
And then he preched of purgatoiy, 
As he fonde in hisstory, 
But yet the folke of the contre 
Beleved not that hit mygth be ; 
And seyed, but gyf hit were so, 
That eny non myth hymself go, 
And se alle that, and come ageyn, 
Then wolde they beleve fayn." 

Vexed at the obstinacy of his hearers, S. Patrick 
besought the Almighty to make the truth manifest 
to the unbelievers ; whereupon 

5". Patrick's Purgatory 235 

" God spakke to Saynt Patryke tho 
By nam, and badde hym with Hym go : 
He ladde hym ynte a wyldernesse, 
Wher was no reste more ne lesse, 
And shewed that he might se 
Inte the erthe a pryve entre : 
Hit was yn a depe dyches ende. 
* What mon/ He sayde, ' that wylle hereyn wende, 
And dwelle theryn a day and a nyght, 
And hold his byleve and ryght, 
And come ageyn that he ne dwelle, 
Mony a mervayle he may of telle. 
And alle tho that doth thys pylgrymage, 
I shalle hem graunt for her wage, 
Whether he be sqwyer or knave, 
Other purgatorye shalle he non have.'" 

Thereupon S. Patrick, " he ne stynte ner day ne 
night," till he had built there a " fayr abbey," and 
stocked it with pious canons. Then he made a 
door to the cave, and locked the door, and gave the 
key to the keeping of the prior ^ The Knight 
Owain, who had served under King Stephen, had 
lived a life of violence and dissolution ; but filled 
with repentance, he sought by v/ay of penance S. 
Patrick's Purgatory. Fifteen days he spent in 
preliminary devotions and alms-deeds, and then he 
heard mass, was washed with holy water, received 
the Holy Sacrament, and followed the sacred relics 

^ Wright, S. Patrick's Purgatory, p. 65. 

236 ^. Patric/t's Purgatory 

in procession, whilst the priests sang for him the 
Litany, " as lowde as they mygth crye." Then 
Sir Owain was locked in the cave, and he groped 
his way onward in darkness, till he reached a 
glimmering light ; this brightened, and he came 
out into an underground land, where was a great 
hall and cloister, in which were men with shaven 
heads and white garments. These men informed 
the knight how he was to protect himself againstJ 
the assaults of evil spirits. After having received] 
this instruction, he heard " grete dynn," and 

" Then come ther develes on every syde, 
Wykked gostes, I wote, fro Helle, 
So mony that no tonge mygte telle : 
They fylled the hows yn two rowes ; 
Some grenned on hym and some mad mowes." 

He then visits the different places of torment. 
In one, the souls are nailed to the ground with 
glowing hot brazen nails ; in another, they are 
fastened to the soil by their hair, and are bitten 
by fiery reptiles. In another, again, they are hung 
over fires by those members which had sinned, 
whilst others are roasted on spits. In one place 
were pits in which were molten metals. In these 
pits were men and women, some up to their chins, 
others to their breasts, others to their hams. The 

S. Patrick's Purgatory 237 

knight was pushed by the devils into one of these 
pits, and was dreadfully scalded, but he cried to 
the Saviour, and escaped. Then he visited a lake 
where souls were tormented with great cold ; and 
a river of pitch, which he crossed on a frail and 
narrow bridge. Beyond this bridge was a wall of 
glass, in which opened a beautiful gate, which con- 
ducted into Paradise. This place so delighted him 
that he would fain have remained in it had he been 
suffered, but he was bidden return to earth and 
finish there his penitence. He was put into a 
shorter and pleasanter way back to the cave than 
that by which he had come ; and the prior found 
the knight next morning at the door, waiting to be 
let out, and full of his adventures. He afterwards 
went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and 
ended his life in piety. " Explycit Owayne^" 

Marie's translation is in three thousand verses ; 
Legrand d'Aussy has given the analysis of it in his 
" Fabliaux," tom. iv. 

Giraldus Cambrensis, in his topography of Ire- 
land, alludes to the Purgatory. He places the 
island of Lough Derg among one of the marvels of 
the country. According to him it is divided into 

' Wright, Op. cit., cap. iii. 

238 5. Patrick's Purgatory 

two parts, whereof one is fair and agreeable, and 
contains a church, whilst the other is rough and 
uncultivated, and a favourite haunt of devils. In 
the latter part of the island, he adds, there were 
nine caves, in any one of which, if a person were 
bold enough to pass the night, he would be so 
tormented by the demons, that he would be fortu- 
nate if he escaped with life ; and he says, it is 
reported that a night so spent relieved the sufferer 
from having to undergo the torments of purgatory 

In the ancient Office of S. Patrick occurred the 
following verse : — 

** Hie est doctor benevolus, 

Hibernicorum apostolus, 
Cui loca purgatoria 
Ostendit Dei gratia." 

Joscelin, in his life of the saint, repeats the fable. 
Henry de Knyghton, in his history, however, 
asserts that it was not the Apostle of Ireland, but 
an abbot Patrick, to whom the revelation of purga- 
tory was made ; and John of Brompton says the 
same. Alexander Neckham calls it S. Brandan's 
Purgatory. Caesar of Heisterbach, in the begin- 

* Girald. Gambr. Topog. Hiberniae, cap. v. 

S. PatricJzs Purgatory 239 

ning of the 13th century, says, " If any one doubt 
of purgatory, let him go to Scotland (i. e. Ireland), 
and enter the Purgatory of S. Patrick, and his 
doubts will be dispelled^" "This recommenda- 
tion," says Mr. Wright, in his interesting and all 
but exhaustive essay on the myth, " was frequently 
acted upon in that, and particularly in the follow- 
ing century, when pilgrims from all parts of Europe, 
some of them men of rank and wealth, repaired to 
this abode of superstition. On the patent rolls in 
the Tower of London, under the year 1358, we 
have an instance of testimonials given by the king 
(Edward III.) on the same day, to two distinguished 
foreigners, one a noble Hungarian, the other a 
Xombard, Nicholas de Beccariis, of their having 
faithfully performed this pilgrimage. And still 
later, in 1397, we find King Richard 11. granting 
a safe conduct to visit the same place, to Raymond, 
Viscount of Perilhos, knight of Rhodes, and cham- 
berlain of the King of France, with twenty men 
and thirty horses. Raymond de Perilhos, on his 
return to his native country, wrote a narrative of 
ivhat he had seen, in the dialect of the Limousan, 

* Caesar. Heist. De Miraculis sui Temporis, lib. xii., 
cap 38. Ap. Wright. 

240 5. Patrick's Purgatory 

of which a Latin version was printed by O'Sullo- 
van, in his * Historia Catholica Iberniae""' 

This work is simply the story of Owain slightly 

Froissart tells us of a conversation he had with 
one Sir William Lisle, who had been in the Purga- 
tory. " I asked him of what sort was the cave that 
is in Ireland, called S. Patrick's Purgatory, and if 
that were true which was related of it. He replied 
that there certainly was such a cave, for he and 
another English knight had been there whilst the 
king was at Dublin, and said that they entered the 
cave, and were shut in as the sun set, and that 
they remained there all night, and left it next 
morning at sunrise. And then I asked if he had 
seen the strange sights and visions spoken of 
Then he said that when he and his companion had 
passed the gate of the Purgatory of S. Patrick, that 
they had descended as though into a cellar, and 
that a hot vapour rose towards them, and so 
affected their heads, that they were obliged to sit 
down on the stone steps. And after sitting there 
awhile they felt heavy with sleep, and so fell 
asleep, and slept all night. Then I asked if they 

« Wright, Op. cit., p. 135. 

S. Patrick's Purgatory 241 

knew where they were in their sleep, and what sort 
of dreams they had had ; he answered that they 
had been oppressed with many fancies and wonder- 
ful dreams, different from those they were accus- 
tomed to in their chambers ; and in the morning 
when they went out, in a short while they had 
clean forgotten their dreams and visions ; where- 
fore he concluded that the whole matter was 

The next to give us an account of his descent 
into S. Patrick's Purgatory, is William Staunton of 
Durham, who went down into the cave on the 
Friday next after the feast of Holy rood, in the 
year 1409. Mr. Wright has quoted the greater 
portion of his vision from a manuscript in the 
British Museum ; I have only room for a few ex- 
tracts, which I shall modernize, as the original 
spelling is somewhat perplexing. 

" I was put in by the Prior of S. Matthew, of the 
same Purgatory, with procession and devout prayers 
of the prior, and the convent gave me an orison to 
bless me with, and to write the first word in my 
forehead, the which prayer is this, ' Jhesu Christe, 
Fili Dei vivi, miserere mihi peccatori.' And the 
prior taught me to say this prayer when any spirit, 
good or evil, appeared unto me, or when I heard 


242 5. Patrick's Purgatory 

any noise that I should be afraid of." When left 
in the cave, William fell asleep, and dreamed that 
]ie saw coming to him S. John of Bridlington and 
S. Ive, who undertook to conduct him through the 
scenes of mystery. After they had proceeded a 
while, William was found to be guilty of a trespass 
against Holy Church, of which he had to be purged 
before he could proceed much further. Of this^ 
trespass he was accused by his sister who appean 
in the way. "I make my complaint unto yc 
against my brother that here standeth ; for tl 
man that standeth hereby loved me, and I love 
him, and either of us would have had the other a< 
cording to God's law, as Holy Church teaches, ai 
I should have gotten of me three souls to God, buF 
my brother hindered us from marrying." S. John 
of Bridlington then turned to William, and asked 
him why he did not allow the two who loved one 
another to be married. " I tell thee there is no 
man that hindereth man or woman from being 
united in the bond of God, though the man be a 
shepherd and all his ancestors, and the woman 
be come of kings or of emperors, or if the man 
be come of never so high kin, and the woman of 
never so low kin, if they love one another, but he 
sinneth in Holy Church against God and his deed, 

S. Patricks Purgatory 243 

and therefore he shall have much pain and tribula- 
tions." Being assoiled of this crying sin, S. John 
takes William to a fire " grete and styngkyng," in 
which he sees people burning in their gay clothes. 
" I saw some with collars of gold about their necks, 
and some of silver, and some men I saw with gay 
girdles of silver and gold, and harnessed with horns 
about their necks, some with no jagges on their 
clothes, than whole cloth, others full of jingles and 
bells of silver all over set, and some with long 
pokes on their sleeves, and women with gowns 
trailing behind them a long space, and some with 
chaplets on their heads of gold and pearls and 
other precious stones. And I looked on him that 
I saw first in pain, and saw the collars, and gay 
girdles, and baldrics burning, and the fiends dragging 
him by two fingermits. And I saw the jagges that 
men were clothed in turn all to adders, to dragons, 
and to toads, and 'many other orrible bestes' 
sucking them, and biting them, and stinging them 
with all their might, and through every jingle I 
saw fiends smite burning nails of fire into their 
flesh. I also saw fiends drawing down the skin of 
their shoulders like to pokes, and cutting them off, 
and drawing them to the heads of those they cut 
them from, all burning as fire. And then I saw 
R 2 

244 ^". Patrick's Purgatory 

the women that had side trails behind them, and 
the side trails cut off by the fiends and burned on 
their head ; and some took of the cutting all 
burning and stopped therewith their mouths, their 
noses, and their ears. I saw also their gay chap- 
lets of gold and pearls and precious stones, turned 
into nails of iron, burning, and fiends with burning 
hammers smiting them into their heads." These 
were proud and vain people. Then he saw another 
fire, where the fiends were putting out people's 
eyes, and pouring molten brass and lead into the 
sockets, and tearing off their arms, and the nails of 
their feet and hands, and soldering them on again. 
This was the doom of swearers. William saw 
other fires wherein the devils were executing tor- 
tures varied and horrible on their unfortunate 
victims. We need follow him no further. 

At the end of the fifteenth century the Purga- 
tory in Lough Derg was destroyed, by orders of 
the pope, on hearing the report of a monk of 
Eymstadt in Holland, who had visited it, and had 
satisfied himself that there was nothing in it more 
remarkable than in any ordinary cavern. The 
Purgatory was closed on S. Patrick's day, 1497 ; 
but the belief in it was not so speedily banished 
from popular superstition. Calderon made it the 

6". Patrick's Pzirgatory 245 

subject of one of his dramas ; and it became the 
subject of numerous popular chap-books in France 
and Spain, where during last century it occupied 
in the religious belief of the people precisely the 
same position which is assumed by the marvellous 
visions of heaven and hell sold by hawkers in 
England at the present day, one of which, probably 
founded on the old S. Patrick's Purgatory legend, 
I purchased the other day, and found it to be a 
publication of very modern date. 

Unquestionably, the story of S. Patrick's Purga- 
tory is founded on the ancient Hell-descents pre- 
valent in all heathen nations ; Herakles, Orpheus, 
Odysseus, in Greek Mythology, yEneas, in Roman, 
descend to the nether world, and behold sights very 
similar to those described in the Christian legends 
just quoted. Among the Finns, Wainomoinen 
goes down into Pohjola, the land of darkness and 
fear ; and the Esths tell of Kalewa plunging into a 
mysterious cave which led him to the abode of the 
foul fiend, where he visited his various courts, and 
whence he ravished his daughters. A still more 
striking myth is that of the ancient Quiches, con- 
tained in their sacre^ book, the Popol-Vuh ; in 
which the land of Xibalba contains mansions nearly 
as unpleasant as the fields and lakes of S. Patrick's 

246 5. Patrick's Purgatory 

Purgatory, One is the house of gloom, another of 
men with sharp swords, another of heat, one of 
cold, one of the mansions is haunted by blood- 
sucking bats, another is the den of ferocious tigers ^ 
Odin, in Northern Mythology, has mansions of cold 
and heat^; and Hell's abode is thus described: — 
" In Niflheim she possesses a habitation protected 
by exceedingly high walls and strongly barred 
gates. Her hall is called Elvidnir; Hunger is 
her table; Starvation, her knife; Delay, her man; 
Slowness, her maid ; Precipice, her threshold ; 
Care, her bed ; and Burning Anguish forms the 
hangings of her apartment ^" Into this the au- 
thor of the Solarliod, in the Elder Edda, is 
supposed to have descended. This curious poem 
is attributed by some to Soemund the Wise 
(d. 1 131), and is certainly not later. The com- 
position exhibits a strange mixture of Chris- 
tianity and Heathenism, whence it would seem 
that the poet's own religion was in a transition 
state : — 

? Popul-Vuh : Brasseur de Boubourg, Paris, 1861 ; lib. ii. 
8 Hrolfs Saga Kraka, cap. 39; in Fornm. Sogur I., pp. 

^ Prose Edda, c. 33. 

vS". Patrick's Purgatory 247 

" 39. The sun I saw, true star of day, 

Sink in its roaring home ; but Hell's grated doors 
On the other side I heard heavily creaking. 

51. In the Norn's seat nine days sat I, 
Thence was I mounted on a horse : 
There the giantess's sun shone grimly 
Through the dripping clouds of heaven. 

52. Without and within, I seemed to traverse 
All the seven nether worlds ; up and down, 
I sought an easier way 

Where I might have the readiest paths." 

He comes to a torrent about which flew "scorched 
birds, which were souls, numerous as flies." Then 
the wind dies away, and he comes to a land where 
the waters do not flow. There false-faced women 
grind earth for food. 

" 58. Gory stones these dark women 

Turned sorrowfully ; out of their breasts 

Hung bleeding hearts, faint with much affliction." 

He saw men with faces bloody, and heathen 
stars above their heads, painted with deadly cha- 
racters ; men who had envied others had bloody 
runes cut in their breasts. Covetous men went to 
Castle Covetous dragging weights of lead, mur- 
derers were consumed by venomous serpents, 
sabbath-breakers were nailed by their hands to 

£48 5. Patrick's Purgatory 

hot stones. Proud men were Avrapped in flame, 
slanderers had their eyes plucked out by Hell's 

" 68. All the horrors thou wilt not get to know 
Which Hell's inmates suffer. 
Pleasant sins end in painful penalties : 
Pains ever follow pleasured" 

Among the Greeks a descent into the cave of 
Trophonius occupied much the same place in the 
popular Mysticism that the Purgatory of S. Patrick 
assumed among Christians. Lustral rites, some- 
what similar, preceded the descent, and the result 
were not unhke^ 

It is worthy of remark that the myth of S. Pa- 
trick's Purgatory originated among the Kelts, and 
the reason is not far to seek. In ancient Keltic 
Mythology the nether world was divided into three 
circles^ corresponding with Purgatory, Hell, and 
Heaven ; and over Hell was cast a bridge, very 
narrow, which souls were obliged to traverse if 
they hoped to reach the mansions of light. This 
was — 

" The Brig o' Dread, na brader than a thread." 

And the Purgatory under consideration is a reflex 

* Edda of Scemund, tr. by Thorpe, Part I., p. 117. 

^ Pausanias, ix. c. 39 — 40, and Plutarch., De genio Socrat. 


5. Patrick's Purgatory 249 

of old Druidic teaching. Thus in an ancient Breton 
ballad Tina passes through the lake of pain, on 
which float the dead, white robed, in little boats. 
She then wades through valleys of blood ^ 

As this myth has been exhaustively treated by 
Mr. Thomas Wright (S. Patrick's Purgatory ; by 
T. Wright, London, 1844), it shall detain us no 
longer. I differ from him, however, as to its origin. 
He attributes it to monkish greed ; but I have no 
hesitation in asserting that it is an example of the 
persistency of heathen myths, colouring and in- 
fluencing Mediaeval Christianity. We will only 
refer the reader for additional information to the 
Purgatoire de Saint Patrice; legende dii xiii' Steele^ 
1842 ; a reprint by M. Prosper Tarbe of a MS. 
in the library at Rheims ; a Memoire by M. Paul 
Lacroix in the Melanges historiqiies, published by 
M. Champollion Figeac, vol. iii. ; the poem of 
Marie de France in the edition of her works, Paris, 
1820, vol. ii. ; an Histoire de la Vie et dii Purga- 
toire de S. Patrice^ par R. P. Fran9ois Bouillon, 
O. S. F., Paris, 1651, Rouen, 1696 ; and also Le 
Monde Enchante^ par M. Ferdinand Denys, Paris, 
1845, pp. 157—174- 

3 Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte : Band III., Die 
Kelten, p. 23. 

^Je terrestrial iParatJise 

THE exact position of Eden, and its present 
condition, does not seem to have occupied 
the minds of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, nor to 
have given rise among them to wild speculations. 

The map of the tenth century in the British 
Museum, accompanying the Periegesis of Priscian, 
is far more correct than the generaHty of maps 
which we find in MSS. at a later period ; and 
Paradise does not occupy the place of Cochin 
China, or the isles of Japan, as it did later, after 
that the fabulous voyage of S. Brandan had 
become popular in the eleventh century \ The 

^ S. Brandan was an Irish monk, living at the close of the 
sixth century ; he founded the Monastery of Clonfert, and is 
commemorated on May i6. His voyage seems to be founded 
on that of Sinbad, and is full of absurdities. It has been 
republished by M. Jubinal from MSS. in the Bibhotheque 
du Roi, Paris, 8vo., 1836 ; the earliest printed English edition 
is that of Wynkyn de Worde, London, 1516. 


The Terrestrial Paradise 251 

site, however, had been already indicated by 
Cosmas, who wrote in the seventh century, and 
had been specified by him as occupying a con- 
tinent east of China, beyond the ocean, and still 
watered by the four great rivers Pison, Gihon, 
Hiddekel, and Euphrates, which sprang from sub- 
terranean canals. In a map of the ninth century, 
preserved in the Strasbourg Library, the terrestrial 
Paradise is, however, on the Continent, placed at 
the extreme east of Asia ; in fact, is situated in the 
Celestial Empire. It occupies the same position 
in a Turin MS., and also in a map accompanying 
a commentary on the Apocalypse in the British 

According to the fictitious letter of Prester John 
to the Emperor Emanuel Comnenus, Paradise was 
situated close to — within three days' journey of — 
his own territories, but where those territories were, 
is not distinctly specified. 

" The river Indus, which issues out of Paradise," 
writes the mythical king, " flows among the plains, 
through a certain province, and it expands, em- 
bracing the whole province with its various wind- 
ings : there are found emeralds, sapphires, car- 
buncles, topazes, chrysolites, onyx, beryl, sardius, 
and many other precious stones. There too grows 

253 The T err estiial Paradise 

the plant called Asbestos." A wonderful fountain, 
moreover, breaks out at the roots of Olympus, a 
mountain in Prester John's domain, and " from 
hour to hour, and day by day, the taste of this 
fountain varies ; and its source is hardly three 
days' journey from Paradise, from which Adam 
was expelled. If any man drinks thrice of this 
spring, he will from that day feel no infirmity, and 
he will, as long as he lives, appear of the age of 
thirty." This Olympus is a corruption of Alumbo, 
which is no other than Columbo in Ceylon, as is 
abundantly evident from Sir John Mandeville's 
Travels, though this important fountain has es- 
caped the observation of Sir Emmerson Tennant. 

" Toward the heed of that forest (he writes) is the 
cytee of Polombe, and above the city is a great 
mountayne, also clept Polombe. And of that 
mount, the Cytee hathe his name. And at the 
foot of that Mount is a fayr welle and a gret, 
that hathe odour and savour of all spices ; and at 
every hour of the day, he chaungethe his odour 
and his savour dyversely. And whoso drynkethe 
3 times fasting of that watre of that welle, he is 
hool of alle maner sykenesse, that he hathe. And 
thei that duellen there and drynken often of that 
welle, thei nevere han sykenesse, and thei semen alle 

The Terrestrial Paradise 253 

weys yonge. I have dronken there of 3 or 4 sithes ; 
and zit, methinkethe, I fare the better. Some men 
clepen it the Welle of Youthe : for thei that often 
drynken thereat, semen alle weys yongly, and 
lyven withouten sykenesse. And men seyn, that 
that welle comethe out of Paradys : and therefore 
it is so vertuous." 

Gautier de Metz, in his poem on the " Image 
du Monde," written in the thirteenth century, 
places the terrestrial Paradise in an unapproachable 
region of Asia, surrounded by flames, and having 
an armed angel to guard the only gate. 

Lambertus Floridus, in a MS. of the twelfth 
century, preserved in the Imperial Library in 
Paris, describes it as " Paradisus insula in oceano 
in oriente :" and in the map accompanying it. 
Paradise is represented as an island, a little south 
east of Asia, surrounded by rays, and at some 
distance from the mainland ; and in another MS. 
of the same library — a mediaeval encyclopaedia — 
under the word Paradisus is a passage which states 
that in the centre of Paradise is a fountain which 
waters the garden — that in fact described by 
Prester John, and that of which story-teUing Sir 
John Mandeville declared he had " dronken 3 or 4 
sithes." Close to this fountain is the Tree of Life. 

254 The Terrestrial Paradise 

The temperature of the country is equable ; neither 
frosts nor burning heats destroy the vegetation. 
The four rivers already mentioned rise in it. 
Paradise is, however, inaccessible to the traveller, 
on account of the wall of fire which surrounds it. 

Paludanus relates in his " Thesaurus Novus," of 
course on incontrovertible authority, that Alexander 
the Great was full of desire to see the terrestrial 
Paradise, and that he undertook his wars in the 
East for the express purpose of reaching it, and 
obtaining admission into it. He states that on his 
nearing Eden an old man was captured in a ravine 
by some of Alexander's soldiers, and they were 
about to conduct him to their monarch, when the 
venerable man said, " Go and announce to Alex- 
ander that it is in vain he seeks Paradise ; his 
efforts will be perfectly fruitless, for the way of 
Paradise is the way of humility, a way of which he 
knows nothing. Take this stone and give it to Alex- 
ander, and say to him, * From this stone learn what 
you must think of yourself " Now this stone was 
of great value and excessively heavy, outweighing 
and excelling in value all other gems, but when 
reduced to powder it was as light as a tuft of hay, 
and as worthless. By which token the mysterious 
old man meant, that Alexander alive was the 


The Terrestrial Paradise 255 

greatest of monarchs, but Alexander dead would 
be a thing of nought. 

That strangest of mediaeval preachers, Meffreth, 
who got into trouble by denying the Immaculate 
Conception of the Blessed Virgin, in his second 
sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent, discusses 
the locality of the terrestrial Paradise, and claims 
S. Basil and S. Ambrose as his authorities for 
stating that it. is situated on the top of a very lofty 
mountain in Eastern Asia ; so lofty indeed is the 
mountain, that the waters of the four rivers fall in 
cascade down to a lake at its foot, with such a roar 
that the natives who live on the shores of the lake 
are stone-deaf Meffreth also explains the escape 
of Paradise from submergence at the Deluge, on 
the same grounds as does the Master of Sentences 
(lib. 2, dist. 17, c. 5), by the mountain being so 
very high that the waters Avhich rose over Ararat 
were only ab!^ to wash its base. 

A manuscript in the British Museum tells us 
that " Paradise is neither in heaven nor on earth. 
The book says that Noah's flood was forty fathoms 
high, over the highest hills that are on earth ; and 
Paradise is forty fathoms higher than Noah's flood 
was, and it hangeth between heaven and earth 
wonderfully, as the ruler of all things made it. 

256 The Terrestrial Paradise 

And it is perfectly level both in length and breadth. 
There is neither hollow nor hill ; nor is there frost 
nor snow, hail nor rain ; but there is fons vitae, that 
is, the well of life. When the calends of January 
commence, then floweth the well so beautifully and 
so gently, and no deeper than man may wet his 
finger on the front, over all that land. And so 
likewise each month, once when the month comes 
in the well begins to flow. And there is the copse 
of wood, which is called Radion Saltus, where each 
tree is as straight as an arrow, and so high, that no 
earthly man ever saw so high, or can say of what 
kind they are. And there never falleth leaf off, 
for they are evergreen, beautiful, and pleasant, full 
of happiness. Paradise is upright on the eastern 
part of this world. There is neither heat nor 
hunger, nor is there ever night, but always day. 
The sun there shineth seven times brighter than on 
this earth. Therein dwell innumerable angels of 
God with the holy souls till doomsday. Therein 
dwelleth a beautiful bird called Phoenix ; he is large 
and grand, as the Mighty One formed him ; he is 
the lord over all birds." — (MS. Cotton. Vespas. D 
xiv., fol. 163.) 

The monk who incited S. Brandan to undertake 
his mythical voyage told him that he had sailed 

The Terrestrial Paradise 257 

due east from Ireland, and had come at last to 
Paradise, which was an island full of joy and mirth, 
and the earth as bright as the sun, and it was a 
glorious sight ; and the half-year he was there 
slipped by as a few moments. On his return to 
the abbey, his garments were still fragrant with 
the odours of Paradise. Brandan also arrived at 
the same island, and with his companions traversed 
it for the space of forty days without meeting any 
one, till he came to a broad river, on the banks of 
which stood a young man, who told him that this 
stream divided the world in twain ; and that none 
living might cross it. 

In a MS. volume in the library of Corpus Christi 
College, Cambridge, is a map of the world, dating 
from the twelfth century, whereon Paradise is 
figured as an island opposite the mouth of the 
Ganges, which flows into the ocean somewhere 
about where the Amour in reality empties itself. 

The Anglo-Saxon poem, " De Phcenice," in the 
Exeter book, a translation of the work of the 
Pseudo-Lactantius, asserts : — 

" I have heard tell 
That there is far hence 
In eastern parts 
A land most noble, 
Amongst men renowned. 

258 The Terrestrial Paradise 

That tract of earth is not 
Over mid earth 
Fellow to many 
Peopled lands ; 
But it is withdrawn 
Through the Creator's might 
From wicked doers. 
Beauteous is all the plain, 
With delights blessed, 
With the sweetest 
Of earth's odours." 

And then it rambles on in description of its 
delights, which may be imagined without further 

The Hereford map of the thirteenth century^j 
represents the terrestrial Paradise as a circulaJ^B| 
island near India, cut off from the continent not 
only by the sea, but also by a battlemented wall 
with a gateway to the west. 

Rupert of Duytz regards it as having been 
situated in Armenia. Radulphus Highden, in the 
thirteenth century, relying on the authority of 
S. Basil and S. Isidore of Seville, places Eden in 
an inaccessible region of Oriental Asia ; and this 
was also the opinion of Philostorgus. Hugo de 
S. Victor, in his book " De Situ Terrarum," ex- 
presses himself thus: — "Paradise is a spot in the 
Orient productive of all kinds of woods and pomi- 

The Terrestrial Paradise 259 

ferous trees. It contains the Tree of Life : there is 
neither cold nor heat there, but perpetual equable 
temperature. It contains a fountain which flows 
forth in four rivers." 

Rabanus Maurus, with more discretion, says : — 
"Many folk want to make out that the site of 
Paradise is in the east of the earth, though cut off 
by the longest intervening space of ocean or 
earth from all regions which man now inhabits. 
Consequently, the waters of the Deluge, which 
covered the highest points of the surface of our orb, 
were unable to reach it. However, whether it be 
there, or whether it be any where else, God knows ; 
but that there was such a spot once, and that it 
was on earth, that is certain." 

Jacques de Vitry (" Historia Orientalis"), Gervais 
of Tilbury, in his "Otia Imperalia," and many 
others, hold the same views as to the site of 
Paradise that were entertained by Hugo de S. 

Jourdain de Severac, monk and traveller in the 
beginning of the fourteenth century, places the 
terrestrial Paradise in the " Third India ;" that is 
to say, in trans-Gangic India. 

Leonardo Dati, a Florentine poet of the fifteenth 
century, composed a geographical treatise in verse, 

S 2 

260 The Terrestrial Paradise 

entitled "Delia Sfera;" and it is in Asia that he 
locates the garden : — 

" Asia e le prima parte dove 1' huomo 
Sendo innocente stava in Paradise." 

But perhaps the most remarkable account of the 
terrestrial Paradise ever furnished, is that of the 
" Eireks Saga Vidforla," an Icelandic narrative of 
the fourteenth century, giving the adventures of a 
certain Norwegian, named Eirek, who had vowed, 
whilst a heathen, that he would explore the fabulous 
Deathless Land of pagan Scandinavian mythology. 
The romance is possibly a Christian recension of an 
ancient heathen myth ; and Paradise has taken the 
place in it of Gloesisvellir. 

According to the majority of the MSS. the story 
purports to be nothing more than a religious novel ; 
but one audacious copyist has ventured to assert 
that it is all fact, and that the details are taken 
down from the lips of those who heard them from 
Eirek himself The account is briefly this : — 

Eirek was a son of Thrand, king of Drontheim, 
and having taken upon him a vow to explore the 
Deathless Land, he went to Denmark, where he 
picked up a friend of the same name as himself. 
They then went to Constantinople, and called upon 

The Terrestrial Paradise 261 

the Emperor, who held a long conversation with 
them, which is duly reported, relative to the truths 
of Christianity and the site of the Deathless Land, 
which, he assures them, is nothing more nor less 
than Paradise. 

"The world," said the monarch, who had not 
forgotten his geography since he left school, " is 
precisely 180,000 stages round (about 1,000,000 
English miles), and it is not propped up on posts — 
not a bit ! — it is supported by the power of God ; 
and the distance between earth and heaven is 
X 00,045 n^iles (another MS. reads 9382 miles — the 
difference is immaterial) ; and round about the 
earth is a big sea called Ocean." " And what's to 
the south of the earth.?" asked Eirek. "Oh! there 
is the end of the world, and that is India." " And 
pray where am I to find the Deathless Land V 
" Paradise, I suppose you mean, — lies slightly east 
of India." 

Having obtained this information, the two 
Eireks started, furnished with letters from the 
Greek Emperor. 

They traversed Syria, and took ship — probably 
at Balsora ; then, reaching India, they proceeded 
on their journey on horseback, till they came to a 
dense forest, the gloom of which was so great, 

262 The Terrestrial Paradise 

through the interlacing of the boughs, that even by 
day the stars could be observed twinkling, as though 
they were seen from the bottom of a well. 

On emerging from the forest, the two Eireks 
came upon a strait, separating them from a beauti- 
ful land, which was unmistakably Paradise ; and 
the Danish Eirek, intent on displaying his Scrip- 
tural knowledge, pronounced the strait to be the 
river Pison. This was crossed by a stone bridge^ 
guarded by a dragon. 

The Danish Eirek, deterred by the prospect ofi 
an encounter with this monster, refused to advance, 
and even endeavoured to persuade his friend to , 
give up the attempt to enter Paradise as hopeless, 
after that they had come within sight of the 
favoured land. But the Norseman deliberately 
walked, sword in hand, into the maw of the dragon, 
and next moment, to his infinite surprise and de- 
light, found himself liberated from the gloom of the 
monster's interior, and safely placed in Paradise. 

" The land was most beautiful, and the grass as 
gorgeous as purple ; it was studded with flowers, 
and was traversed by honey rills. The land waf 
extensive and level, so that there was not to be 
seen mountain or hill, and the sun shone cloudless 
without night and darkness ; the calm of the ail 

The Terrestrial Paradise 263 

was great, and there was but a feeble murmur of 
wind, and that which there was, breathed redolent 
with the odour of blossoms." After a short walk, 
Eirek observed what certainly must have been a 
remarkable object, namely, a tower or steeple self- 
suspended in the air, without any support whatever, 
though access might be had to it by means of a 
slender ladder. By this Eirek ascended into a loft 
of the tower, and found there an excellent cold 
collation prepared for him. After having partaken 
of this he went to sleep, and in vision beheld and 
conversed with his guardian angel, who promised 
to conduct him back to his fatherland, but to come 
for him again, and fetch him away from it for ever 
at the expiration of the tenth year after his return 
to Drontheim. 

Eirek then retraced his steps to India, unmolested 
by the dragon, which did not affect any surprise at 
having to disgorge him, and, indeed, which seems 
to have been, notwithstanding his looks, but a 
harmless and passive dragon. 

After a tedious journey of seven years, Eirek 
reached his native land, where he related his adven- 
tures, to the confusion of the heathen, and to the 
delight and edification of the faithful. "And in 
the tenth year, and at break of day, as Eirek went 

264 The Terrestrial Paradise 

to prayer, God's Spirit caught him away, and he 
was never seen again in this world ; so here ends 
all we have to say of him^" 

The Saga, of which I have given the merest out- 
line, is certainly striking, and contains some beauti- 
ful passages. It follows the commonly-received 
opinion which identified Paradise with Ceylon ; 
and, indeed, an earlier Icelandic work, the " Rym- 
begla," indicates the locality of the terrestrial Para- 
dise as being near India, for it speaks of the Gangej 
as taking its rise in the mountains of Eden. It : 
not unlikely that the curious history of Eirek, is 
translation, with modifications, of a Keltic romance.^ 
I form this opinion from the introduction of the 
bridge over which Eirek has to pass, and the mar- 
velous house suspended in air, which is an item 
peculiar to the Paradise of Druidical Mythology. 

Later than the fifteenth century, we find no 
theories propounded concerning the terrestrial 
Paradise, though there are many treatises on the 
presumed situation of the ancient Eden. At 
Madrid was published a poem on the subject, 
entitled "Patriana decas," in 1629. ^^ ^d^l G. C. 
Kirchmayer, a Wittemberg professor, composed a 

' Compare with this the death of Sir Galahad in the 
" Morte d' Arthur" of Sir Thomas Malory. 

The Terrestrial Paradise 265 

thoughtful dissertation, " De Paradiso," which he 
inserted in his "Deliciae ^stivae." Fr. Arnoulx 
wrote a work on Paradise in 1665, full of the 
grossest absurdities. In 1666 appeared Carver's 
" Discourse on the Terrestrian Paradise." Bochart 
composed a tract on the subject ; Huet wrote on it 
also, and his work passed through seven editions, 
the last dated from Amsterdam, 1701. The Pere 
Hardouin composed a " Nouveau Traite de la Situ- 
ation du Paradis Terrestre," La Haye, 1730. An 
Armenian work on the rivers of Paradise was 
translated by M. Saint Martin in 1819; and in 
1842 Sir W. Ouseley read a paper on the situation 
of Eden, before the Literary Society in London. 

S- €rcorae 

A MORE interesting task for the comparative 
mythologist can hardly be found, than the 
analysis of the legends attaching to this celebrated 
soldier-martyr ; — interesting, because these legends ] 
contain almost unaltered representative myths of] 
the Semitic and Aryan peoples, and myths which 
may be traced with certainty to their respective 

The popular traditions current relating to the 
Cappadocian martyr are distinct in the East and 
the West, and are alike sacred myths of faded 
creeds, absorbed into the newer faith, and re- 
colouied. On dealing with these myths, we are 
necessarily drawn into the discussion as to whether 
such a person as S. George existed, and if he did 
exist, whether he were a Catholic or a heretic. 
Eusebius says (Eccl. Hist. B. viii. c. 5), " Imme- 

5. George 267 

dlately on the first promulgation of the edict (of 
Diocletian), a certain man of no mean origin, but 
highly esteemed for his temporal dignities, as soon 
as the decree was published against the Churches 
in Nicomedia, stimulated by a divine zeal, and 
excited by an ardent faith, took it as it was openly 
placed and posted up for public inspection, and 
tore it to pieces as a most profane and wicked 
act. This, too, was done when two of the Caesars 
were in the city, the first of whom was the eldest 
and chief of all, and the other held the fourth grade 
of the imperial dignity after him. But this man, as 
the first that was distinguished there in this manner, 
after enduring what was likely to follow an act so 
daring, preserved his mind calm and serene until 
the moment when his spirit fled." 

This martyr, whose name Eusebius does not give, 
has been generally supposed to be S. George, and 
if so, this is nearly all we know authentic concern- 
ing him. But popular as a saint he unquestionably 
was, from a very early age. He is believed to have 
suffered at Nicomedia in 303, and his worship was 
soon extended through Phoenicia, Palestine, and 
the whole East. In the seventh century he had two 
Churches in Rome ; in Gaul he was honoured in the 
fifth century. In an article contributed to the 

268 5. Georo-e 


Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature \ 
Mr. Hogg speaks of a Greek inscription copied 
from a very ancient church, originally a heathen 
temple at Ezra, in Syria, dated A.D. 346, in which 
S. George is spoken of as a holy martyr. This is 
important testimony, as at this very time was 
living the other George, the Alexandrian bishop, 
(d. 362) with whom the Saint is sometimes con- 

The earliest acts quoted by the Bollandists, are 
in Greek, and belong to the sixth century ; they are 
fabulous. Beside these, are some Latin acts, said 
to have been composed by Pasikr^s, the servant of 
the martyr, which belong to the eighth century; and 
which are certainly translations of an earlier work 
than the Greek acts printed by the Bollandists. 
These are also apocryphal. Consequently we 
know of S. George little, except that there was such 
a martyr, that he was a native of Lydda, but 
brought up in Cappadocia, that he entered the 
Roman army and suffered a cruel death for Christ. 
That his death was one of great cruelty, is rendered 
probable by the manner in which his biographers 
dilate on his tortures, all agreeing to represent them 
as excessive. 

^ Second Series, vol. vii. pt. i. 


5. George 269 

The first to question the reverence shown for S. 
George was Calvin, who says ' Nil eos Christo reli- 
quum facere qui pro nihilo ducunt ejus intercessio- 
nem, nisi accedant Georgius aut Hippolitus, aut 
similes larvae.' Dr. Reynolds follows in the wake, 
and identifies the martyr with the Arian Bishop of 
Alexandria. This man had been born in a fuller's 
mill at Epiphania, in CiHcia. He is first heard of as 
purveyor of provisions for the army at Constanti- 
nople, where he assumed the profession of Arianism ; 
from thence, having been detected in certain frauds, 
he was obliged to fly, and take refuge in Cappa- 
docia. His Arian friends obtained his pardon, by 
payment of a fine, and he was sent to Alexandria, 
where his party elected him Bishop, in opposition 
to S. Athanasius, immediately after the death of the 
Arian prelate, Gregory. There, associating with 
himself Dracontius, master of the mint, and the 
Count Diodorus, he tyrannized alike over Catholics 
and heathens, till the latter rose against him and 
put him to death. Dr. Heylin levelled a lance in 
honour of the Patron of England ^ ; but his histori- 
cal character was again questioned in 1753, ^7 ^^• 
John Pettingal in a work on the original of the 

^ Historic of that Most famous Saint and Soldier of Christ 
Jesus, S. George of Cappadocia, 1633. 

270 S. George 

equestrian statue of S. George ; and he was an- 
swered by Dr. Samuel Pegge, in 1777, in a paper 
read before the Society of Antiquaries. Gibbon, 
without much investigation into the ground of the 
charge, assumes the identity of the Saint and the 
Arian prelate. " The odious stranger, disguising 
every circumstance of time and place, assumed the 
mask of a martyr, a saint, and a Christian hero ; , 
and the infamous George of Cappadocia has been! 
transformed into the renowned S. George of Eng- 
land, the patron of arms, of chivalry, and of the 
Garter 3." 

The great improbability of such a transformation 
would lead one to question the assertion, even if on ' 
no other ground. Arians and Catholics were too 
bitterly hostile, for it to be possible that a partisan \ 
of the former, and a persecutor, should be accepted 
as a saint by the latter. The writings of S. Atha- 
nasius were sufficiently known to the Medisevals to 
save them from falling into such an error, and 
S. Athanasius paints his antagonist in no charm- 
ing colours. I am disposed to believe that there 
really was such a person as S. George, that he was 
a martyr to the Catholic faith, and that the verj' 

* Gibbon's Decline and Fall, chap, xxiii. 

5. George 271 

uncertainty which existed regarding him, tended to 
give the composers of his biography the opportu- 
nity of attaching to him popular heathen myths, 
which had been floating unadopted by any Christian 
hero. The number of warrior saints was not so 
very great; Sebastian's history was fixed, so were 
those of Maurice and Gereon, but George was un- 
provided with a history. The deficiency was soon 
suppHed. We have a similar instance in the story 
of S. Hippolitus. The ancient tale of the son of 
Theseus torn by horses was deliberately transferred 
to a Christian of the same name. 

The substance of the Greek acts is to this effect : 
George was born of Christian parents in Cappa- 
docia. His father suffered a martyr's death, and 
the mother with her child took refuge in Palestine. 
He early entered the army, and behaved with 
great courage and endurance. At the age of 
twenty he was bereaved of his mother, and by 
her death came in for a large fortune. He then 
went to the court of Diocletian, where he hoped 
to find advancement. On the breaking out of the 
persecution, he distributed his money among the 
poor, and declared himself, before the Emperor, 
to be a Christian. Having been ordered to sacri- 
fice, he refused, and was condemned to death. 

272 5. George 


The first day, he was thrust with spears to prison, 
one of the spears snapped Hke straw when it 
touched him. He was then fastened by the feet 
and hands to posts, and a heavy stone was laid 
upon his breast. 

The second day, he was bound to a wheel set 
with blades of knives and swords. Diocletian 
believed him to be dead ; but an angel appearing, 
George courteously saluted him in military fashion, 
whereby the persecutor ascertained that the Saint 
was still living. On removing him from the wheel, 
it was discovered that all his wounds were healed. 
George was then cast into a pit of quicklime, 
which, however, did not cause his death. On the 
next day but one, the Emperor sent to have his 
limbs broken, and he was discovered on his knees 
perfectly whole. 

He was next made to run in red-hot iron shoes. 
The following night and day he spent in prayer, 
and on the sixth day he appeared before Diocletian 
walking and unhurt. He was then scourged with 
thongs of hide till his flesh came off his back, 
but was well next day. 

On the seventh day he drank two cups, whereof 
the one was prepared to make him mad, the other 
to poison him, without experiencing any ill effects. 

S. George 273 

He then performed some miracles, raised a dead 
man to life, and restored to life an ox which had 
been killed ; — miracles which resulted in numerous 

That night George dreamed that the Saviour 
laid a golden crown on his head, and bade him 
prepare for Paradise. S. George at once called to 
him the servant who wrote these memoirs (ocrrt? 
KoiX ra VTTO TOP ayiov virofivqiiaTa <rvv aKpi^eia irdcrrj 
(TvveTa^ev), and commanded him, after his death, 
to take his body and will to Palestine. On the 
eighth day, the saint, by the sign of the cross, 
forced the devil inhabiting the statue of Apollo 
to declare that he was a fallen angel ; then all the 
statues of the gods fell before him. 

This miracle converted the Empress Alexandra ; 
and Diocletian was so exasperated against the 
truth, that he condemned her to instant death. 
George was' then executed. The day of his 
martyrdom was the 23rd of April. 

The Latin acts may be summed up as follows ; 
they, as already stated, are a translation from a 
Greek original : 

The devil urges Dacian, Emperor of the Persians, 
king of the four quarters of heaven, having domi- 
nion over seventy-two kings, to persecute the 


274 5, George 

Church. At this time lived George of Cappadocia, 
a native of Melitena. Melitena is also the scene 
of his martyrdom. Here he lived with a holy 
widow. He is subjected to numerous tortures, 
such as the rack, iron pincers, fire, a sword-spiked 
wheel, shoes nailed to his feet ; he is put into an 
iron box set within with sharp nails, and flung 
down a precipice ; he is beaten with sledge-hammers,, 
a pillar is laid on him, a heavy stone dashed o: 
to his head ; he is stretched on a red-hot iron bed 
melted lead is poured over him ; he is cast into 
well, transfixed with forty long nails, shut into 
brazen bull over a fire, and cast into a well with 
a stone round his neck. Each time he return 
from a torment, he is restored to former vigour. 
His tortures continue through seven years. His 
constancy and miracles are the means of converting 
40,900 men, and the Empress Alexandra. Dacian 
then orders the execution of George and his queen ; 
and as they die, a whirlwind of fire carries off the 

These two acts are the source of all later Greek 

Papenbroech prints legends by Simeon Meta- 
phrastes (d. 904), Andreas Hierosoly mites, and 
Gregorios Kyprios (d. 1289). 

Q ■ 

5. George 275 

Reinbot von Dorn (cent, xlii.), or the French 
author from whom he translated the life of S- 
George, thought fit to reduce the extravagance 
of the original to moderate proportions, the 
seventy-two kings were reduced to seven, the 
countless tortures to eight ; George is bound, and 
has a weight laid on him, is beaten with sticks, 
starved, put on a wheel covered with blades, 
quartered and thrown into a pond, rolled down 
a hill in a brazen bull, his nails transfixed with 
poisoned thorns, and he is then executed with the 

Jacques de Voragine says that he was first 
attached to a cross, and torn with iron hooks 
till his bowels protruded, and that then he was 
washed with salt water. Next day he was given 
poison to drink without its affecting him. Then 
George was fastened to a wheel covered with razors 
and knives, but the wheel snapped. He was next 
cast into a caldron of molten lead. George was 
uninjured by the bath. Then, at his prayer, light- 
ning fell and destroyed all the idols, whilst the 
earth, opening, swallowed up the priests. At the 
sight of this, the wife of Dacian, whom Jacques 
de Voragine makes proconsul under Diocletian, 
is converted, and she and George are decapitated. 

T 2 

276 ^. George 

Thereupon lightning strikes Dacian and his mi- 

S. George, then, according to the Oriental Chris- 
tian story, suffers at least seven martyrdoms, and 
revives after each, the last excepted. 

The Mussulmans revere him equally with the 
Christians, and tell a tale concerning him having 
strong affinity to that recorded in the acts. Gher- 
ghis, or El Khoudi, as he is called by them, lived a 
the same time as the Prophet. He was sent by Go 
to the king of El Mau9il with the command that h 
should accept the faith. This the king refused to do," 
and ordered the execution of Gherghis. The saint 
was slain, but God revived him, and sent him to the 
king again. A second time was he slain, and again 
did God restore him to life. A third time did he 
preach his mission. Then the persecutor had him 
burned, and his ashes scattered in the Tigris. 
But God restored him to life once more, and de- 
stroyed the king and all his subjects ^ The Greek 
historian, John Kantakuzenos (d. 1380) remarks, 
that in his time there were several shrines erected 
to the memory of George, at which the Mohamme- 
dans paid their devotions ; and the traveller Burck- 

* Mas'udi, libers. von Sprenger, vol. i. p. 120. 


5. George 277 

hardt relates, that " the Turks pay great veneration 
to S. George ;" Dean Stanley moreover noticed a 
Mussulman chapel on the sea-shore near Sarafend, 
the ancient Sarepta, dedicated to El Khouder, in 
which " there is no tomb inside, only hangings before 
a recess. This variation from the usual type of 
Mussulman sepulchres was, as we were told by 
peasants on the spot, because El Khouder is not 
yet dead, but flies round and round the world, and 
these chapels are built wherever he has appeared ^" 
Ibn Wahshiya al Kasdani was the translator of the 
Book of Nabathaean Agriculture. "Towards the 
year 900 of our era, a descendant of those ancient 
Babylonian families who had fled to the marshes of 
Wasith and of Bassora, where their posterity still 
dwell, was struck with profound admiration for the 
works of his ancestors, whose language he under- 
stood, and probably spoke. Ibn Wahshiya al 
Kasdani, or the Chaldasan, was a Mussulman, but 
Islamism only dated in his family from the time 
of his great-grandfather ; he hated the Arabs, and 
cherished the same feeling of national jealousy to- 
wards them as the Persians also entertained against 
their conquerors. A piece of good fortune threw 

* Sinai and Palestine, p. 274. 


5. George 

into his hands a large collection of Nabathaea 
writings, which had been rescued from Mosle 
fanaticism. The zealous Chaldaean devoted his lifij 
to their translation, and thus created a Nabathseo 
Arabic library, of which three complete works, t 
say nothing of the fragments of a fourth, hav 
descended to our days "." One of these is th 
Book of Nabathaean Agriculture, written b] 
Kuthami the Babylonian. In it we find th« 
following remarkable passage : "The contemn 
poraries of Yanbushadh assert that all the seka 
of the gods and all the images lamented over Yan^ 
bushadh after his death, just as all the angels anc 
seka in lamented over Tammuzi. The images (( 
the gods), they say, congregated from all parts 
the world to the temple in Babylon, and betool 
themselves to the temple of the Sun, to the gre< 
golden image that is suspended between heavei 
and earth. The Sun image stood, they say, ii 
the midst of the temple, surrounded by all 
images of the world. Next to it stood the imag( 
of the Sun in all countries ; then those of 
Moon ; next those of Mars ; after them, th^ 
images of Mercury ; then those of Jupiter ; aft( 

* Ernest Renan, Essay on the Age and Antiquity of tl 
Book of Nabath^an Agricukure, London, 1862, p. 3. 

5". George 279 

them, those of Venus ; and last of all, of Saturn. 
Thereupon the image of the Sun began to bewail 
Tammuzi, and the idols to weep ; and the image of 
the Sun uttered a lament over Tammuz and nar- 
rated his history, whilst the idols all wept from the 
setting of the sun till its rising at the end of that 
night. Then the idols flew away, returning to their 
own countries. They say that the eyes of the idol 
of Tehama (in South Arabia), called the eagle, are 
perpetually flowing with tears, and will so continue, 
from the night wherein it lamented over Tammuz 
along with the image of the Sun, because of the 
peculiar share that it had in the story of Tammuz. 
This idol, called Nesr, they say, is the one that 
inspired the Arabs with the gift of divination, so 
that they can tell what has not yet come to pass, 
and can explain dreams before the dreamers state 
what they are. They (the contemporaries of Yan- 
bushadh) tell that the idols in the land of Babel 
bewailed Yanbushadh singly in all their temples a 
whole night long till morning. During this night 
there was a great flood of rain, with violent thunder 
and lightning, as also a furious earthquake (in the 
district) from the borders of the mountain ridge of 
Holwan to the banks of the Tigris near the city 
Nebarwaja, on the eastern bank of that river. The 

280 5. George 

idols, they say, returned during this flood to their 
places, because they had been a little shaken. 
This flood was brought by the idols as a judgment 
upon the people of the land of Babel for having 
abandoned the dead body of Yanbushadh, as it lay 
on the bare ground in the desert of Shamas, so that 
the flood carried his dead body to the Wadi el- 
A'hfar, and then swept it from this wadi into th 
sea. Then there was drought and pestilence 
the land of Babel for three months, so that the 
living were not sufficient to bury the dead. These 
tales (of Tammiiz and Yanbushadh) have been col- 
lected and are read in the temples after prayer 
and the people weep and lament much thereupo 
When I myself am present with the people in the 
temple, at the feast of Tammuz, which is in the 
month called after him, and they read his story 
and weep, I weep along with them always, out of 
friendly feeling towards them, and because I com- 
passionate their weeping, not that I believe what 
they relate of him. But I believe in the story of 
Yanbiishadh, and when they read it and weep, I 
weep along with them, very differently from my 
weeping over Tammiizi. The reason is this, that 
the time of Yanbushadh is nearer to our own than 
the time of Tammuz, and his story is, therefore, 



5. George 281 

more certain and worthy of belief. It is possible 
that some portions of the story of TammQz may 
be true, but I have my doubts concerning other 
parts of it, owing to the distance of his tinie from 

Thus writes Kuthami the Babylonian, and his 
translator adds : — 

" Says Abu Bekr A'hmed ibn Wa'hshiya. This 
month is called Tammuz, according to what the 
Nabathseans say, as I have found it in their books, 
and is named after a man of whom a strange 
long story is told, and who was put to death, they 
relate, several times in succession in a most cruel 
manner. Each of their months is named after 
some excellent and learned man, who was one, 
in ancient times, of those Nabathseans that in- 
habited the land of Babel before the Chaldaeans. 
This Tammuz was not one of the Chaldaeans, 
nor of the Canaanites, nor of the Hebrews, nor 
of the Assyrians, but of the primeval lanbanis. . . 
All the Ssabians of our time, down to our own 
day, wail and weep over Tammuz in the month 
of that name, on the occasion of a festival in his 
honour, and make great lamentation over him ; 
especially the women, who all arise, both here 
(at Bagdad) and at 'Harran, and wail and weep 


5. George 

over Tammuz. They tell a long and silly story 
about him ; but, as I have clearly ascertained, 
not one of either sect has any certain information 
regarding Tammuz, or the reason of their lament- 
ing over him. However, after I had translated 
this book, I found in the course of my reading 
the statement that Tammuz was a man concerning 
whom there was a legend, and that he had been 
put to death in a shameful manner. That was all ; 
not another word about him. They knew nothing 
more about him than to say, * We found our ances- 
tors weeping and wailing over him in this way at 
this feast that is called after him Tammuzi.' My 
own opinion is, that this festival which they hold 
in commemoration of Tammuz is an ancient one, 
and has maintained itself till now, whilst the story 
connected with him has been forgotten, owing to 
the remoteness of his age, so that no one of these 
Ssabians at the present day knows what his story 
was, nor why they lament over him." Ibn 
Wa'hshiya then goes on to speak of a festival 
celebrated by the Christians towards the end of' 
the month Nisan (April) in honour of S. George, 
who is said to have been several times put to death 
by a king to whom he had gone to preach Chris- 
tianity, and each time he was restored to life 

S. George 283 

again, but at the last died. Then Ibn Wa'hshiya 
remarks that what is related of the blessed George 
is the same as that told of Tammuz, whose 
festival is celebrated in the month Tammuz ; and 
he adds that besides what he found regarding 
Tammuz in the "Agriculture," he lit on another 
Nabathaean book, in which was related in full the 
legend of Tammuz ; — " how he summoned a king 
to worship the seven (planets) and the twelve 
(signs), and how the king put him to death several 
times in a cruel manner, Tammuz coming to life 
again after each time, until at last he died ; and 
behold ! it was identical with the legend of S. 
George that is current among the Christians "." 

Mohammed en Medun in his Fihrist-el-U'lum, 
says, " Tammuz (July). In the middle of this 
month is the Feast El Bugat, that is, of the 
weeping women, which Feast is identical with 
that Feast of Ta-uz, which is celebrated in honour 
of the god Ta-uz. The women bewail him, be- 
cause his Lord had him so cruelly martyred, 

7 Chwolson: iiber Tammuz. St. Petersburg, i860, pp. 
41 — 56. The translation is for the most part from the- 
Christian Remembrancer, No. cxii., an article on Tammilz, 
with the conclusions of which I cannot altogether agree. My 
own conviction as to Tammuz will be seen in the sequel. 

284 5. George 

his bones being ground in a mill, and scattered 
to the winds I" 

We have then the Eastern myth of S. George 
identified with that of Tammiiz, by one who is 
impartial. What that myth of Tammuz was in 
its entirety we cannot say, but we have sufficient 
evidence in the statement of Ibn Wa'hshiya to 
conclude that the worship of S. George and its 
popularity in the East, is mainly due to the fact 
of his being a Christianized Tammuz. 

Professor Chwolson insists on Tammuz having 
been a man, deified and worshipped ; and the 
review below referred to confirms this theory. I 
believe this to be entirely erroneous. Tammuz 
stands to Chaldee mythology in precisely the 
same relation that the Ribhavas do to that of the 
Vedas. A French orientalist, M. Neve, wrote a 
learned work in 1847, ^^ these ancient Indian deities, 
to prove that they were deified sages. But the 
careful study of the Vedic hymns to the Ribhus 
lead to an entirely opposite conclusion. They 
are the Summer breezes deified, which, in that 
they waft the smoke of the sacrifices to heaven, 
are addressed as assisting at the sacred offerings ; 

* Chwolson: Die Ssabier, ii. 27. 

5". George 285 

and in a later . age, when their real signification 
was lost, they were anthropomorphized into a 
sacred caste of priests. A similar process has, 
I believe, taken place with Tammuz, who was 
the sun, regarded as a God and hero, dying at 
the close of each year, and reviving with the new 
one. In Kuthami's age the old deity was appa- 
rently misappreciated, and had suffered, in con- 
sequence, a reincarnation in Yanbushadh, of whom 
a similar story was told, and who received similar 
worship, because he was in fact one with Tammuz. 
Almost exactly the same legend is related by the 
Jews of Abraham, who, they say, was cruelly tor- 
tured by Nimrod, and miraculously preserved by 

The Phoenician Adonis was identical with 
Tammiiz. S. Jerome in the Vulgate rendered 
the passage in Ezekiel (viii. 14), "He brought 
me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house, 
which was towards the north ; and behold, there 
sat women weeping for Tammiiz," by ecce midieres 
sedentes plangentes Adonidem ; and in his com- 
mentary on the passage says, "Whom we have 
interpreted Adonis, both the Hebrew and Syriac 

9 Leben Abrahams nach Ausfassung der Judischen Sage, 
V. Dr. B. Beer, Leipzig, 1859. 

286 5. George 

languages call Than:uz . . . and they call the 
month June by that name." He informs us also of 
a very important fact, that the solstice was the time 
when Tammuz was believed to have died, though 
the waiHng for him took place in June. Con- 
sequently Tammiiz's martyrdom took place at the 
end of December. Cyril of Alexandria also tells 
us of the identity existing between Adonis and 
Tammuz (in Isaiah, chap, xviii.). 

The name Adonis is purely Semitic, and signifies 
the Lord. His worship was introduced to the 
Greeks by the Phoenicians through Crete. 

Adonis is identified with the Sun in one of the 
Orphic hymns : " Thou shining and vanishing in 
the beauteous circle of the Horae, dwelling at 
one time in gloomy Tartarus, at another eleva- 
ting thyself to Olympus, giving ripeness to the 
fruits M" According to Theocritus, this rising and 
setting, this continual coursing, is accomplished in 
twelve months : " In twelve months the silent 
pacing Horae follow him from the nether-world to 
that above, the dwelling of the Cyprian goddess, 
and then he declines again to Acheron ^." The 
cause of these wanderings, according to the fable, 

^ Orph. Hymn Iv. 5, and 10, 11. 
^ Theocrit. Id. xv. 103, IC4, 136. 

5. Geors:e 287 

• i> 

was that two goddesses loved Adonis, Aphro- 
dite, or more properly Astarte, and Persephone. 
Aphrodite, the Syrian Baalti, loved him so tenderly 
that the jealousy of Ares was aroused, and he 
sent a wild boar to gore him in the chase. When 
Adonis descended to the realm of darkness, Per- 
sephone was inflamed with passion for the comely 
youth. Consequently a strife arose between her 
and Aphrodite, which should possess him. The 
quarrel was settled by Zeus dividing the year 
into three portions, whereof one, from the summer 
solstice to the autumn equinox, was to belong 
to Adonis, the second was to be spent by 
him with Aphrodite, and the third with Perse- 
phone. But Adonis voluntarily surrendered his 
portion to the goddess of beauty'. Others say, 
that Zeus decreed that he should spend six months 
in the heavens with Aphrodite, and the other six 
in the land of gloom with Persephone \ 

The worship of Adonis, who was the same as 
Baal, was general in Syria and Phoenicia. The 
devotion to Tammuz, we are told, was popular 
from Antioch to Elymais ^ It penetrated into 

^ Cyrill. Alex, in Isa.; Apollodor. lib. iii. c. 14. 

^ Schol. in Theocrit. Id. iii. v. 48, and xv. v. 103. 

* Ammian. Marcell. xxii. p. (Elian, Hist, animal, xii. 33. 

288 5. George 

Greece from Crete. Biblos in Phoenicia was the 
main seat of this worship. 

Tammuz, or Adonis, was again identical with 
Osiris. This is stated by several ancient writers ^ 

The myth relating to Osiris was very similar. 
The Egyptian sun-god was born at the summer 
solstice and died at the winter solstice, when pro- 
cessions went round the temple seeking him, seven 
times. Osiris in heaven was the beloved of Isis, in 
the land of darkness was embraced by Nepthys. 

Typhon, as the Greeks call Seth or Bes, a mon- 
ster represented in swine or boar shape, attacked 
Osiris, and slaying him, cut him up, and cast him 
into the sea. This took place on the 17th of the 
month Athor. 

Then began the wailing for Osiris, which lasted 
four days ; this was followed by the seeking, and 
this again by the finding of the God. 

Under another form, the same myth, and its ac- 
companying ceremonies, prevailed in Egypt, just as 
at Babylon that of Tammuz had its reflection in the 
more modern cultus of Yanbushadh. The soul of 
the deceased Osiris was supposed to be incarnate in 
Apis ; and, in process of mythologic degradation, 
the legend of Osiris passed over to Apis, and with 
^ Lucian. de dea Syria, n. 7. Steph. de Urb. v. 

5. George 289 

it the significant ceremonial. Thus Herodotus tells 
us how that at Memphis the death of the sacred 
bull was a cause of general wailing, and its dis- 
covery one of exultation. When Cambyses was in 
Egypt, and the land groaned under foreign sway, 
no Apis appeared ; but when his two armies were 
destroyed, and he came to Memphis, Apis had 
appeared ; and he found the conquered people mani- 
festing their joy in dances, and with feasting and 
gay raiment '. 

We have, it will be seen, among Phoenicians, 
Syrians, Egyptians, and Nabathaeans, all Semitic 
nations, peculiar myths, with symbolic ceremonies 
bearing such a close resemblance to one another, 
that we are constrained to acknowledge them as 
forms, slightly varied, of some primaeval myth. 

We find also among the Arabs, another Semitic 
nation, a myth identical with that of the Babylonian 
Tammiiz, prevalent among them not long after their 
adoption of Islamism. How shall we account for 
this 1 My answer is, that the pre-Mohammedan 
Arabs had a worship very similar to that of Tam- 
miiz, Baal, Adonis, or Osiris, and that, on their con- 
version to the faith of the prophet, they retained 
the ancient legend, adapting it to El Koudir, whom 

7 Thalia, c. 27. 


290 6". George 

they identified with S. George, because they found 
that the Christians had already adopted this course, 
and had fixed the ancient myth on the martyr ofj 
Nicomedia. In Babylonia it had already passed t( 
Yanbiishadh ; and it was made to pass fiirther t( 
Gherghis, much as in Greece the story of Apollo 
and Python was transferred to Perseus and the sea- 
monster, and, as we shall see presently, was adopted 
into Christian mythology, and attributed to the 
subject of this paper. And indeed the process 
was perhaps facilitated by the fact that one 
of the names of this solar god was Giggras ; h( 
was so called after the pipes used in wailing foi 

The circumstances of the death of Tammijz var] 
in the different Semitic creeds. 

Let me place them briefly in apposition. 
Nabathsean myth. Tammiiz. 

A great hero, and prophet ; is cruelly put tc 
death several times, but revives after each mar- 
tyrdom. His death a subject of wailing. 
Phoenician myth. Adon or Baal. 

A beautiful deity, killed by the furious Boar godj 
Revived and sent to heaven. Divides his tim( 
between heaven and hell, subject of wailing, 
seeking, and finding. 

5. George 291 

Syrian myth. Baal. 

Identical with the Phoenician. 
Egyptian myth. Osiris. 

A glorious god and great hero, killed by the evil 
god. Passes half his time in heaven, and half 
in the nether world. Subject of wailing, seeking, 
and finding. 
Arabian myth. El Khouder, original name Ta'uz. 
A prophet, killed by a wicked king several times 
and revived each time. 
Oriental Christian myth. S. George. 

A soldier, killed by a wicked king, undergoes 
numerous torments, but revives after each. On 
earth lives with a widow. Takes to the other 
world with him the queen. Wailing and seek- 
ing fall away, and the festival alone remains. 
From this tabular view of the legends it is, I 
think, impossible not to see that S. George, in his 
mythical character, is a Semitic god Christianized. 
In order to undergo the process of conversion, a 
few little arrangements were rendered necessary, 
to divest the story of its sensuous character, and 
purify it. Astarte or Aphrodite had to be got out 
of the way somehow. She was made into a pious 
widow, in whose house the youthful saint lodged. 
Then Persephone, the queen of Hades, had to be 
U 2 

292 5. George 

accounted for. She was turned into a martyr, Alex- 
andra ; and just as Persephone was the wife of the 
ruthless monarch of the nether world, so was Alex- 
andra represented as the queen of Diocletian or 
Datian, and accompanied George to the unseen world., 
Consequently in the land of light, George was wit! 
the widow; in that of gloom, with Alexandra : jus 
as Osiris spent his year between Isis and Nepthys^ 
and Adonis between Aphrodite and Persephone, 
According to the ancient Christian legend, th 
body of George travelled from the place of his mar- 
tyrdom to that of his nativity ; this resembles the 
journey of the body of Osiris, down the Nile, over 
the waves to Biblos, where Isis found him again. 

The influence of Persian mythology is also per- 
ceptible in the legend. El Nedim says that Tarn 
muz was brayed in a mill ; this feature in his mar- 
tyrdom is adopted from the Iranian tradition o 
Hom, the Indian Soma, or the divine drink o 
sacrifice, which was anthropomorphized, and th 
history of the composition of the liquor was trans- 
formed into the fable of the hero. The Hom was 
pounded in a mortar, and the juice was poured on 
the sacrificial flames, and thus carried up into 
heaven in fire ; in the legend of the demigod, Hom 
was a martyr who was cruelly bruised and broken 


S. George 293 

in a mortar, but who revived, and ascended to the 
skies. In the tale of George there is another 
indication of the absorption into it of a foreigt 
myth. George revives the dead cow of the peasant 
Glycerius ; the same story is told of Abbot William 
of Villiers, of S. Germanus, of S. Garmon, and of 
S. Mochua. Thor also brought to life goats which 
had been killed and eaten. The same is told in 
the Rigveda of the Ribhus : "O sons of Sudharvan, 
out of the hide have you made the cow to 
arise ; by your songs the old have you made 
young, and from one horse have you made another 

The numbers in the legend of the soldier-saint 
have a solar look about them. The torments of S. 
George last seven years, or, according to the Greek 
acts, seven days ; the tyrant reigns over the four 
quarters of heaven, and seven kings ; in the Naba- 
thaean story, Tammiiz preaches the worship of the 
seven planets, and the twelve signs of the Zodiac. 
Osiris is sought seven days. The seven winter 
months are features in all mythologies. 

The manner in which S. George dies repeatedly 
represents the different ways in which the sun dies 

8 See my note in Appendix to " The Folklore of the N. 
Counties of England," London, 1866. pp. 321-4. 


S. George 

each day. The Greeks, and, indeed, most nations," 
regarded the close of day as the expiration of thej 
solar deity, and framed myths to account for his 
decease. In Greek mythology the solar gods an 
many, and the stories of their deaths are distributee 
so as to provide each with his exit from the world 
but in Semitic mythology it is not so, the sun-god' 
is one, and all kinds of deaths are attributed to him 
alone, or, if he suffers anthropomorphism, to his] 

Phaethon is a solar deity ; he falls into th( 
western seas. Herakles is another ; he expires ii 
flames, rending the poisoned garment given hii 
by Dejanira. Phaethon's death represents th( 
rapid descent of the sun in the west ; that 
Herakles, the setting orb in a flaming western sk] 
rending the fire-lined clouds, which wrap his body* 
The same blaze, wherein sank the sun, was als( 
supposed to be a funeral pyre, on which la] 
Memnon ; and the clouds fleeting about it, som( 
falling into the fire, and some scudding over the^ 
darkling sky, were the birds which escaped from 
the funeral pyre. Achilles, a humanized sun-god, 
was vulnerable in his heel, just as the Teutonic] 
Sigfried could only be wounded in his back : this 
represents the sun as retiring from the heavens with] 

6*. George 295 

his back turned, struck by the weapon of dark- 
ness, just as Ares, the blind God, with his tusk 
slew Adonis, or sightless Hodr with his mistletoe 
shaft smote Baldur. 

In the S. George fable, we have the martyr, like 
Memnon or Herakles, on the fire, and transfixed, 
like Achilles and Ajax ; exposed in a brazen bull 
on a fire, that is, hung in the full rain-cloud over 
the western blaze ; cast down a hill, like Phaethon ; 
plunged into boiling metal, a representation of the 
lurid vapours of the west. 

Having identified S. George or Tammuz with 
the sun, we shall have little difficulty in seeing 
that Aphrodite or Isis is the moon when visible, 
and Persephone or Nepthys the waned moon ; 
Persephone is in fact no other than Aphrodite 
in the region of gloom, where, according to the 
decree of Zeus, she was to spend six months with 
Aidoneus, and six months in heaven. 

But it is time for us to turn to the Western myth, 
that of the fight of S. George with the dragon ; in 
this, again, we shall find sacred beliefs of antiquity 
reappearing in Christian form. 

The story of S. George and the dragon first pre- 
sents itself in the Legenda Aurea of Jacques de 
Voragine. It was accepted by the unquestioning 

296 5. George 

clerks and laity of the middle ages, so that it founc 
its way into the office-books of the Church. 

O Georgi Martyr inclyte, 
Te decet laus et gloria, 
Predotatum militia ; 
Per quern puella regia, 
Existens in tristitia, 
Coram Dracone pessimo, 
Salvata est. Ex animo 
Te rogamus corde intimo, 
Ut cunctis cum fidelibus 
Coeli jungamur civibus 
Nostris ablatis sordibus : 
Et simul cum lastitia 
Tecum simus in gloria ; 
Nostraque reddant labia 
Laudes Christo cum gratia, 
Cui sit honos in secula. 

Thus sang the clerks from the Sarum " Horas B. 
Marise," on S. George's day, till the reformation^ 
of the Missals and Breviaries by Pope Clement 
VII., when the story of the dragon was cut out,] 
and S. George was simply acknowledged as 
martyr, reigning with Christ. His introit waj 
from. Ps. Ixiii. The Collect, "God, who makest 
us glad through the merits and intercession oi 
blessed George the martyr, mercifully grant that 
we who ask through him Thy good things may] 
obtain the gift of Thy grace." The Epistlej 

5. George 297 

2 Tim. ii. 8 — ii, and iii. to — 13 ; and the Gospel^ 
S. John XV. I — 8. 

The legend, as told by Voraglne, is this : — 
George, a tribune, was born in Cappadocia, and 
came to Lybia, to the town called Silene, near 
which was a pond infested by a monster, which 
had many times driven back an armed host that 
had come to destroy him. He even approached the 
walls of the city, and with his exhalations poisoned 
all who were near. To avoid such visits, he was 
furnished each day with two sheep, to satisfy his 
voracity. If these were not given, he so attacked 
the walls of the town, that his envenomed breath 
infected the air, and many of the inhabitants died. 
He was supplied with sheep, till they were ex- 
hausted, and it was impossible to procure the 
necessary number. Then the citizens held coun- 
sel, and it was decided that each day a man and 
a beast should be offered, so that at last they gave 
up their children, sons and daughters, and none 
were spared. The lot fell one day on the princess. 
The monarch, horror-struck, offered in exchange 
for her his gold, his silver, and half his realm, only 
desiring to save his daughter from this frightful 
death. But the people insisted on the sacrifice of 
the maiden, and all the poor father could obtain. 

298 5. George 

was a delay of eight days, in which to bewail the 
fate of the damsel. At the expiration of this time, 
the people returned to the palace, and said, " Why 
do you sacrifice your subjects for your daughter ? 
We are all dying before the breath of this mon- 
ster !" The king felt that he must resolve on part- 
ing with his child. He covered her with royal 
clothes, embraced her, and said, " Alas ! dear 
daughter, I thought to have seen myself re-born 
in your offspring. I hoped to have invited princes 
to your wedding, to have adorned you with royal 
garments, and accompanied you with flutes, tam- 
bourins, and all kinds of music ; but you are to be 
devoured by this monster ! Why did not I die 
before you .'*" 

Then she fell at her father's feet and besought 
his blessing. He accorded it her, weeping, and 
he clasped her tenderly in his arms ; then she 
went to the lake. George, who passed that way, 
saw her weeping, and asked the cause of her tears. 
She replied : — " Good youth ! quickly mount your 
horse and fly, lest you perish with me." But 
George said to her : — " Do not fear ; tell me what 
you await, and why all this multitude look on." 
She answered : — " I see that you have a great and 
noble heart ; yet, fly !" " I shall not go without 

5. George 299 

knowing the cause," he replied. Then she ex- 
plained all to him ; whereupon he exclaimed : — 
" Fear nothing ! in the name of Jesus Christ, I will 
assist you." "Brave knight!" said she; "do not 
seek to die with me ; enough that I should perish ; 
for you can neither assist nor deliver me, and you 
will only die with me." 

At this moment the monster rose above the sur- 
face of the water. And the virgin said, all trem- 
bling, "Fly, fly, sir knight !" 

His only answer was the sign of the cross. Then 
he advanced to meet the monster, recommending 
himself to God. 

He brandished his lance with such force, that he 
transfixed it, and cast it to the ground. Then, 
addressing the princess, he bade her pass her 
girdle round it, and fear nothing. When this was 
done, the monster followed like a docile hound. 
When they had brought it into the town, the peo- 
ple fled before it ; but George recalled them, 
bidding them put aside all fear, for the Lord 
had sent him to deliver them from the dragon. 
Then the king and all his people, twenty thousand 
men, without counting women and children, were 
baptized, and George smote off the head of the 

300 5. George 

Other versions of the story are to the effect that 
the princess was shut up in a castle, and that 
all within were perishing for want of water, 
which could only be obtained from a fountain 
at the base of a hill, and this was guarded by 
the "laidly worm," from which George delivered 

" The hero won his well-earn'd place 

Amid the saints, in death's dread hour ; 

And still the peasant seeks his grace, 
And next to God, reveres his power. 

In many a church his form is seen 

With sword, and shield, and helmet sheen : 

Ye know him by his steed of pride, 

And by the dragon at his side." 

Chr. Schmid. 

The same story has attached itself to other saints 
and heroes of the middle ages, as S. Secundus of 
Asti, S. Victor, Gozo of Rhodes, Raimond of S. 
Sulpice, Struth von Winkelried, the Count Aymon, 
Moor of Moorhall, " who slew the dragon of Want- 
ley," Conyers of Sockburn, and the Knight of 
Lambton, "John that slew ye Worme." Ariosto 
adopted it into his Orlando Furioso, and made 
his hero deliver Angelica from Orca, in the true 
mythic style of George ^ ; and it appears again in 

^ Orland. Fur. c. xi. 

5. George 301 

the tale of Chederles '. The cause of the legend 
attaching itself to our hero, was possibly a mis- 
understanding of an encomium, made in memory of 
S. George, by Metaphrastes, which concludes thus : 
"Licebat igitur videre astutissimum Draconem, 
adversus carnem et sanguinem gloriari solitum, 
elatumque, et sese efiferentem, a juvene uno illu- 
sum, et ita dispectum atque confusum, ut quid 
ageret non haberet." Another writer, summing up 
the acts of S. George, says : " Secundo quod Dra- 
conem vicit qui significat Diabolum ;'* and Hos- 
pinian, relating the sufferings of the martyr, affirms 
distinctly that his constancy was the occasion of 
the creation of the legend by Voragine '. 

If we look at the story of Perseus and Andro- 
meda, we shall find that in all essential particulars 
it is the same as that of the Cappadocian Saint. 

Cassiope having boasted herself to be fairer than 
Hera, Poseidon sent a flood and a sea-monster 
'to ravage the country belonging to her husband 
Cepheus. The oracle of Ammon having been 
consulted, it was ascertained that nothing would 
stop the resentment of the gods except the ex- 
posure of the king's daughter, Andromeda, on a 

* Noel: Diet, de la Fable; art. Chederles. 

* Christian Remembrancer, vol. xlv. p. 320. 

302 5. Georze 


rock, to be devoured by the monster. At the 
moment that the dragon approached the maiden, 
Perseus appeared, and learning her peril, engaged 
the monster and slew him. 

The scene of this conflict was near Joppa, where 
in the days of S. Jerome the bones of the huge 
reptile were exhibited, and Josephus pretends to 
have seen there the chains which attached the 
princess to the rock ^ It was at Berytus (Beyrut) 
that the fight of S. George with the dragon took 

Similar stones were prevalent in Greece. In the 
isle of Salamis, Cenchrius, a son of Poseidon, re- 
lieved the inhabitants from the scourge of a similar 
monster, who devastated the island. At Thespia, 
a dragon ravaged the country round the city ; Zeus 
ordered the inhabitants to give the monster their 
children by lot. One year it fell on Cleostratus. 
Menestratus determined to save him. He armed 
himself with a suit covered with hooks, and was 
devoured by the dragon, which perished in killing 
him. Pherecydes killed a great serpent in Caulonia, 
an adventure afterwards related of Pythagoras, with 
the scene shifted to Sybaris ; and Herakles, as is 
well known, slew Hydra. But these are all ver- 
3 Hieron. Epist. io8. Joseph. Bell. Jud. iii. c. 7. 

S. George 303 

sions — echoes — of the principal myth of Apollo and 

The monster Python was sent by Hera to perse- 
cute Leto, when pregnant. Apollo, the moment 
that he was born, attacked the hideous beast 
and pierced him with his arrows. And from the 
place where the serpent died, there burst forth a 

A similar myth is found among the Scandinavian 
and Teutonic nations. In these Northern myth- 
ologies Apollo is replaced by Sigurd, Sigfried, and 

The dragon with which Sigurd fights is Fafnir, 
who keeps guard over a treasure of gold. Sigfried, 
in like manner, in the Nibelungen Lied, fights and 
overcomes a mighty dragon, and despoils him of 
a vast treasure. The Anglo-Saxon poem of Beo- 
wulf contains a similar engagement. A monster 
Grendel haunts a marsh near a town on the North 
Sea. At night the evil spirit rises from the swamp, 
and flies to the mountains, attacking the armed 
men, and slaying them. Beowulf awakes, fights 
him, and puts him to flight. But next night 
Grendel again attacks him, but is killed by the 
hero with an enchanted sword. He fights a dragon 
some years later, and robs it of an incalculable store 

304 5. George 

of gold. The Icelandic Sagas teem with similar 
stories ; and they abound in all European house- 
hold tales. 

In the Rigveda we have the same story. Indra 
fights with the hideous serpent Ahi, or Vrita, who 
keeps guard over the fountain of rains. In Iranian 
mythology, the same battle is waged between 
Mithra and the daemon Ahriman. 

It seems, then, that the fight with the dragon is] 
a myth common to all Aryan peoples. 

Its signification is this : — 

The maiden which the dragon attemps to devour 
is the earth. The monster is the storm-cloud. 
The hero who fights it is the sun, with his glorious] 
sword, the lightning-flash. By his victory the earth 
is relieved from her peril. The fable has been 
varied to suit the atmospheric peculiarities of dif- 
ferent climes in which the Aryans found themselves. 
In India, Vrita is coiled about the source of water, 
and the earth is perishing for want of rain, till 
pierced by the sword of Indra, when the streams 
descend. " I will sing," says the Rigveda, " the 
ancient exploits by which flashing Indra is distin- 
guished. He has struck Ahi, he has scattered the 
waters on the earth, he has unlocked the torrents 
of the heavenly mountains (i. e., the clouds). He 

5. George 805 

has struck Ahi, who lurked in the bosom of the 
celestial mountain, he has struck him with that 
sounding weapon wrought for him by Twachtri ; 
and the waters, like cattle rushing to their stable, 
have poured down on the earth \" And again : — 

** O Indra, thou hast killed the violent Ahi, who 
withheld the waters !" 

" O Indra, thou hast struck Ahi, sleeping guar- 
dian of the waters, and thou hast precipitated them 
into the sea ; thou hast pierced the compact scale 
of the cloud ; thou hast given vent to the streams, 
which burst forth on all sides ^." 

Among the ancient Iranians the same myth 
prevailed, but was sublimated into a conflict be- 
tween good and evil. Ahriman represents Ahi, and 
is the principle of evil ; corrupted into Kharaman, 
it became the Armenian name for a serpent and 
the devil. Ahriman entered heaven in the shape 
of a dragon, was met by Mithra, conquered, and 
hke the old serpent of Apocalyptic vision, "he 

* Rigveda, sect. i. lee, 2. p. xiii. Ed. Langlois, iii. p. 329. 

* Ibid. vol. i. p. ^14 ; ii. p. 447. In the Katha Sarit 
Sagara, a hero fights a daemon monster, and releases a 
beautiful woman from his thraldom. The story as told by 
Soma Deva has already progressed and assumed a form very 
similar to that of Perseus and Andromeda. Katha Sarit 
Sagara, book vii. c. 42. 


306 5. George 

shall be bound for three thousand years, an( 
burned at the end of the world in melted metals V 
Aschmogh (Asmodeus) is also the infernal serpent^ 
of the books of the Avesta ; he is but anothei 
form of Ahriman. This fable rapidly foUowec 
in Persia the same process of application to knowi 
historical individuals that it pursued in Europe 
In the ninth hymn of the Ya9na, Zoroaster asks^ 
Homa who were the first of mortals to honour him, 
and Homa replies : " The first of mortals to whoi 
I manifested myself was Vivanghvat, father of Yimj 
under whom flourished the blessed age which kne^ 
not cold of winter, or scorching heat of sum- 
mer, old age or death, or the hatred produced b] 
the Devas. The second was Athwya, father o^ 
Thraetana, the conqueror of the dragon Dahal 
with three heads, and three throats, and six eyes 
and a thousand strengths." This Thraetana, ii 
the Shahnameh, has become Feridun, who ovei 
comes the great dragon Zohak. 

In northern mythology, the serpent is probably 
the winter cloud, which broods over and keeps froi 
mortals the gold of the sun's light and heat, till 
the spring the bright orb overcomes the powers 
of darkness and tempest, and scatters his gol< 
^ Boundehesch, ii. 351. 416. 

5. George 307 

over the face of the earth. In the ancient Sagas 
of Iceland, the myth has assumed a very peculiar 
form, which, if it would not have protracted this 
article to an undue length, I should have been glad 
to have followed out. The hero descends into 
a tomb, where he fights a vampire, who has 
possession of a glorious sword, and much gold and 
silver. After a desperate struggle, the hero over- 
comes, and rises with the treasures to the surface 
of the earthc This too, represents the sun in the 
northern realms, descending into the tomb of winter, 
and there overcoming the power of darkness, from 
whom he takes the sword of the lightning, and the 
treasures of fertility, wherewith the earth is blessed 
on the return of the sun to the skies in summer. 

This is probably the ancient form of the Scandi- 
navian myth, and the King of gloom reigning over 
his gold in the cairn, was only dragonized when the 
Norse became acquainted with the dragon myths of 
other nations. In the Saga of Hromund Greipson, 
the hero is let down by a rope into a barrow, into 
which he had been digging for six days. He found 
below the old king Thrain the Viking, with a kettle 
of quivering red flames suspended from the roof of 
the vault above him. This king, years before, had 
gathered all the treasures that he had obtained in 
X % 

308 5. George 

a long life of piracy, and had suffered himself to 
be buried alive with his ill-gotten wealth. Hromund 
found him seated on a throne in full armour, girded 
with his sword, crowned, and with his feet resting on 
three boxes containing silver. We have the same 
story in the Gretla ; only there the dead king is 
Karr the old; Grettir is led to open his cairn, by 
seeing flames dancing on the mound at night. Ihj 
the struggle underground, Grettir and the vampire] 
stumble over the bones of the old king's horse, and 
thereby Grettir is able to get the upper hand. 

Similar stories occur in the Floamanna Saga, 
the younger Saga of Olaf the saint (cap. i6), the^ 
elder Olaf Saga (3 — 4), the history of Olaf Geir- 
stafaalp, the Holmverja Saga, and the Barda Saga. 
The last of these is strongly impressed with Chris- 
tian influence, and gives indications of the transfor- 
mation of the evil being into a dragon. Gest visited 
an island ofl" the coast of Helluland (Labrador), 
where lay buried a grimly daemon king Raknar. 
He took with him a priest with holy water and a 
crucifix. They had to dig fifty fathoms before they 
reached the chamber of the dead. Into this Gest 
descended by a rope, holding a sword in one hand, 
and a taper in the other. He saw below a great 
dragon-ship, in which sat five hundred men, 

5. George 309 

champions of the old king, who were buried with 
him. They did not stir, but gazed with blank 
eyes at the taper flame, and snorted vapour from 
their nostrils. Gest despoiled the old king of all 
his gold and armour, and was about to rob him of 
his sword, when the taper expired. Then, at once, 
the five hundred rose from the dragon-ship, and 
the daemon king rushed at him ; they grappled 
and fought. In his need, Gest invoked S. Olaf, 
who appeared with light streaming from his body, 
and illumining the interior of the cairn. Before this 
light, the power of the dead men failed, and Gest 
completed his work in the vault ^. In the story of Si- 
gurd and Fafnir, the dragon is more than half man ; 
but in the battle of Gull-Thorir the creature is scaled 
and winged in the most approved Oriental style '. 
Let me place in apposition a few of the Aryan 
myths relating to the strife between the sun and 
the daemon of darkness, or storm. 
Indian myth. Indra fights Ahi. 

Indra kills Ahi, who is identified with the storm- 
cloud, and releases from him the pent-up waters^ 
for want of which the earth is perishing. Ahi a 

7 Bardar S. Snsefellsass. Kjobnhavn. i860, pp. 41 — 43. 
* Gull-Thoris Saga. Leipzig, 1858. c. iv. 

310 5. George 

Persian myth. Mithra and Ahriman. 

Mithra is clearly identical with the sun, and Ahri- 
man with darkness. Ahriman a dragon. 

Greek myth. Apollo and Python ; Perseus and the] 

Apollo identical with the sun, Python the storm-] 
cloud. Apollo delivers his mother from the] 
assault of the dragon. 
Perseus delivers Andromeda from the water-born] 
serpent. In other Greek fables it is the earth] 
which is saved from destruction by the victory of] 
the hero. 

Teutonic myth. Sigfried and the dragon. 

Sigfried conquers the dragon who keeps guard! 
over a hidden treasure, the hero kills the dragon] 
and brings to light the treasure. 

Scandinavian myth. Sigurd and Fafnir. 

Like the myth of Sigfried. Other, and perhaps 
earlier form, the dragon is a king of Hades, whol 
cannot endure light, and who has robbed the] 
earth of its gold. The hero descends to his] 
realm, fights, overcomes him, and despoils him ol 
his treasures. 

Christian myth. S. George and dragon. 

S. George delivers a princess from a monster, 
who is about to devour her. According to an- 

5. George 311 

other version, the dragon guards the spring of 

water, and the country is languishing for want of 

water ; S. George restores to the land the use of 

the spring by slaying the dragon. 

This table might have been considerably ex- 
tended by including Keltic and Sclavonic fables, but 
it is sufficiently complete to show that the legend 
of S. George and the dragon forms part of one of 
the sacred myths of the Aryan family, and it is im- 
possible not to grasp its signification in the light 
cast upon it by the Vedic poems. 

And when we perceive how popular this vene- 
rable myth was in heathen nations of Europe, it is 
not surprising that it should perpetuate itself under 
Christianity, and that, when once transferred to a 
hero of the nevv^ creed, it should make that hero one 
of the most venerated and popular of all the saints 
in the calendar. 

In the reign of Constant ine the Great, there 
existed a great and beautiful church between 
Ramula, the ancient Arimathsea, and Lydda or 
Decapolis, dedicated by the Emperor to S. George, 
over his tomb. Ramula also bore the name of 
Georgia, and the inhabitants pretended that the 
warrior saint was a native of their town. A temple 
of Juno at Constantinople was converted into a 


S. George 

church, with the same dedication, by the first 
Christian Emperor, and according to one tradition,! 
the bones of the martyr were translated from hisj 
tomb near Lydda, to the church in the great city] 
of Constantine. At an early date his head was 
in Rome, or at all events one of his heads, foi 
another found its way to the church of Mares- 
Moutier, in Picardy, after the capture of Byzantiui 
by the Turks, when it was taken from a church] 
erected by Constantine Monomachus, dedicatee 
to the saint. The Roman head, long forgotten^ 
was rediscovered in 751, with an inscription on it 
which identified it with S. George. In 1600 it was 
given to the church of Ferrara. In Rome, ai 
Palermo, and at Naples there were churches at 
very early date, consecrated to the martyr. L 
509 Clotilda founded a nunnery at Chelles in hij 
honour; and Clovis II. placed a convent at Barak 
under his invocation. In this religious house was 
preserved an arm of S. George, which in the nintl 
century was transported to Cambray ; and fift] 
years later S. Germain dedicated an altar in Paris 
to the champion. In the sixth century a churc 
was erected to his honour at Mayence ; Clothain 
in the following century dedicated one at Nim.egue^ 
and his brother another in Alsace. George had 

S. George 313 

monastery dedicated to him at Thetford, founded 
in the reign of Canute ; a collegiate church in 
Oxford placed under his invocation in the reign 
of the Conqueror. S. George's, Southwark, dates 
from before the Norman invasion. The priory 
church of Griesly in Derbyshire was dedicated 
to SS. Mary and George, in the reign of Henry I. 
The Crusades gave an impetus to the worship 
of our patron. He appeared in light on the walls 
of Jerusalem, waving his sword, and led the 
victorious assault on the Holy City. Unob- 
trusively he and S. Michael slipped into the 
offices, and exercised the functions, of the Dioscuri. 
Robert of Flanders, on his return from the Holy 
Land, presented part of an arm of the saint to 
the city of Toulouse, and other portions to the 
Countess Matilda and to the abbey of Auchin. 
Another arm of S. George fell miraculously from 
heaven upon the altar of S. Pantaleon at Cologne, 
and in honour of it Bishop Anno founded a church. 

The church of Villers-Saint-Leu contains relics 
of the saint, which were given to it in iioi by 
Alexander, chaplain of Count Ernest, who had 
received them from Baldwin at Jerusalem. 

The enthusiasm of the Crusaders for the Eastern 
soldier-saint who led them to battle, soon raised S. 


S. George 

George to the highest pitch of popularity among! 
the nobles and fighting- men of Europe. England, 
Aragon, and Portugal assumed him as their patron,, 
as well as most chivalrous orders founded at thej 
date of these wars. In 1245, ^^ S. George's day,! 
Frederic of Austria instituted an order of knight- 
hood under his patronage; and its banner, white 
charged with a blood -red cross, in battle floated 
alongside of that of the empire. When the! 
emperor entered the castle of S. Angelo at 
Rome, these two banners were carried before 
him. The custody of the sacred standard ofj 
S. George was confided to the Swabian knights. 
In the early part of the thirteenth century there] 
existed a military order under the protection of| 
S. George at Genoa, and in 1201 an order was 
founded in Aragon, with the title of knights of] 
S. George of Alfama. 

In 1348 King Edward III. founded S. George's^ 
Chapel, Windsor. In the following year he was| 
besieging Calais. Moved by a sudden impulse, 
says Thomas of Walsingham, he drew his sword 
with the exclamation " Ha ! Saint Edward ! Ha ! 
Saint George!" The words and action communi- 
cated spirit to his soldiers : they fell with vigour on 
the French, and routed them with a slaughter of 

5. George 315 

two hundred soldiers. From that time S. George 
replaced Edward the Confessor as patron of 
England. In 1350 the celebrated order was 
instituted. In 14 15, by the Constitutions of Arch- 
bishop Chichely, S. George's Day was made a 
major double feast, and ordered to be observed 
the same as Christmas Day, all labour ceasing ; 
and he received the title of spiritual patron of the 
English soldiery. 

In 1545 S. George's Day was observed as a red 
letter day, with proper Collect, Epistle, and Gospel ; 
but in the reign of Edward VI. it was swept away, 
and the holding of the chapter of the Garter on 
S. George's Day was transferred to Whitsun Eve, 
Whitsun Day, and Whitsun Monday. Next year, 
the first of Queen Mary, the enactment was re- 
versed, and since then the ancient custom has 
obtained, and the chapter is held annually on the 
feast of the patron. 

In concluding this paper, it remains only to point 
out the graceful allegory which lies beneath the 
Western fable. S. George is any Christian who 
is sealed at his baptism to be " Christ's faithful 
soldier and servant unto his life's end," and armed 
with the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of 
the faith, marked with its blood-red cross, the 

316 S.George 

helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word or power of God. 

The hideous monster against whom the Chris- 
tian soldier is called to fight is that " old serpent, 
the devil," who withholds or poisons the stream' 
of grace, and who seeks to rend and devour] 
the virgin soul, in whose defence the champion] 

If the warfare symbolized by this legend be] 
carried out in life, then, in Spenser's words — 

" Thou, amongst those saints whom thou doest see, 
Shall be a saint, and thine owne nations frend 
And patrone : thou Saint George shalt called bee, 
Saint George of mery England, the sign of victoree." 

^, ^Ersula anti tfie ISleben Ct)ouganti UirQins 

IN reading the Germania of Tacitus, with a view 
to the study of Teutonic mythology, I lit upon 
a passage so perplexing, that I resolved to minutely 
investigate it, and trace its connexion with other 
statements, and examine its bearings, little knowing 
whither it would lead. That passage shall be quoted 
in the sequel. Suffice it to say here, that it guided 
me to the legend of S. Ursula and her virgin com- 
pany of martyrs. 

At this point I became acquainted with the 
masterly treatise of Dr. Oskar Schade, of Bonn, 
on the story of S. Ursula ^ and was agreeably sur- 
prised to find that, proceeding from the point at 
which I had arrived, he had been guided by sure 
stages to that from which I had started. 

» Die Sage von der Heiligen Ursula, von Oskar Schade. 
Hanover, 1854. 

318 5. Ursula 

As my object in these pages is the analysis of a 
Christian myth, I shall follow the Doctor's course 
rather than my own. The fable of S. Ursula is too 
important to be omitted from this collection of 
Myths, because of the extravagance of its details, 
the devotion which it excited, the persistency with 
which the Church clings to it, setting all her^ 
scenery in motion to present the tragedy in its 
most imposing and probable aspect. It may not 
be omitted also because it is a specimen of th< 
manner in which saintly legends were developec 
in the Middle Ages, the process of the develop- 
ment being unusually evident ; a specimen, lastly,' 
of the manner in which they were generated out, 
of worse than nothing ; a process which is alsoj 
in this case, singularly apparent. 

The legends of the Middle Ages were som( 
beautiful, some grotesque, some revolting. The^ 
two latter classes we put aside at once, but for the 
first we profess a lingering affection. Alas ! too 
often they are but apples of Sodom, fair cheeked, 
but containing the dust and ashes of heathenism. 

Ursula and the eleven thousand British virgins 
are said to have suffered martyrdom at Cologne, 
on October 21st, 237 ; for in 1837 was celebrated 
with splendor the i6th centenary jubilee of their 

and the Eleven Thousand Virgins 319 

passion. They suffered under the Huns, on their 
return from their defeat at Chalons by Aetius 
in 451 ; so that the anachronism is considerable. 
The early martyrology of Jerome, published by 
d'Achery, makes no mention of S. Ursula ; neither 
does that of the Venerable Bede, who was born in 
672. Bede states that he has included all the 
names of which he read : as Ursula was a British 
lady of rank, and was accompanied to martyrdom 
by the enormous number of eleven thousand dam- 
sels, who shared with her the martyr's crown and 
palm, it is singular and significant that Bede should 
not allude to this goodly company. The Martyro- 
logium Gallinense, a compilation made in 804, 
does not include her ; nor does the Vetus Calen- 
darium Corbeiense, composed in or about 831. 
Neither is she mentioned in the Martyrology of 
Rabanus Maurus, who died in 856. Usardus, who 
wrote about 875, does not speak of her, though 
under the 20th October he inserts the passion of 
the holy virgins, Martha and Saula, with many 
others in the city of Cologne. S. Ado wrote a 
martyrology in 880, but makes no mention of 
Ursula and the other virgins ; nor does Notker of 
S. Gall, who died in 912 ; nor, again, does the Cor- 
bey martyrology of 900 ; neither do the two of 

320 5. Ursula 

uncertain date called after Labbe and Richenove. 
We see that up to the tenth century, for eithei 
650 or 450 years after the martyrdom, there is no 
mention of S. Ursula by name, and only one refer- 
ence to virgin martyrs at Cologne. Usardus, who 
mentions these, gives the names of Martha and 
Saula. An old calendar in the Dusseldorf town 
library, belonging to the tenth century, copies 
Usardus, merely transferring the saints to the 21st , 
October. A litany of the following century, in the] 
Darmstadt library, invokes five, in this order : 
Martha, Saula, Paula, Brittola, Ursula. Another 
litany in the same collection raises their number] 
to eight, and gives a different succession : Brittola, 
Martha, Saula, Sambatia, Saturnina, Gregoria, 
Pinnosa, Palladia. Another litany, in the Dussel- 
dorf library, extends the number to eleven : Ursula, 
Sencia, Gregoria, Pinnosa, Martha, Saula, Brittola, 
Saturnina, Rabacia, Saturia, Palladia. And, again, 
another gives eleven, but in different order : 
Martha, Saula, Brittola, Gregoria, Saturnina, 
Sabatia, Pinnosa, Ursula, Sentia, Palladia, Sa- 

A calendar in a Freisingen Codex, published in 
Eckhart's Francia Orientalis, notices them as 55. 
M. XL Virginum. And, lastly, in the twelfth 

and the Eleven Thousand VirHjis 321 

<b ' 

century the chronicle of Rodulf (written 1117) 
reckons the virgin martyrs as twelve. 

But S. Cunibert (d. 66^) is related, in a legend 
of the ninth century, to have been celebrating in 
the church of the Blessed Virgins, when a white 
dove appeared, and indicated the spot where lay 
the relics of one of the martyrs : these were, of 
course at once exhumed. 

In the ninth century there was a cloister of the 
blessed virgins at Cologne : this is also alluded to 
in the tenth and following centuries. The first, 
however, to develope the number of martyrs to any 
very considerable extent, was Wandalbert, in his 
metrical list of saints. This was written about 
851. He does not mention Ursula by name, but 
reckons the virgins who suffered as " thousands." 

" Tunc numerosa simul Rheni per littora fulgent 
Christo virgineis erecta trophasa maniplis 
Agrippinas urbi, quarum furor impius olim 
Millia inactavit ductricibus inclyta Sanctis." 

The authenticity of these lines has, however, 
been questioned by critics. 

The next mention of the virgins as very nume- 
rous is in a calendar of the latter end of the ninth 
century, in which, under October 21st, are com- 
memorated S. Hilario and the eleven thousand 


822 5. Ursula 

virgins. Archbishop Hermann of Cologne, in 922, 
also speaks of this number. In 927 and 941 
Archbishop Wichfried reckons them at eleven 
thousand, and from that time the belief in the 
virgin saints having numbered eleven thousand 
spread gradually through Europe. 

Various suggestions have been made to account 
for this extraordinary number. By some it has 
been supposed that Undecimilla was the name oi 
one of the martyrs, and that the entry in th( 
ancient calendars of Ursula et Undecimilla Virg\ 
Mart, originated the misconception; and, in fact,* 

one missal, supposed to be old, has a similar com- 

memoration ; whilst an inscription at Spiers, accord-^H 
ing to Rettberg, mentions Ursula et Decumilia. 
Johann Sprenz believed that the mistake arose 
from the use, in the old MSS. martyrologies and 
calendars, of the Teutonic Gimartarot, or Kimar- 
trot (passus), which, standing S. Ursula Ximartor, 
might have led later writers to have taken the 
entry to signify S. Ursula, et XL Martor. Or, 
again, if the number of the virgins were eleven, 
they may have been entered as SS. XL M. Vir- 
gines, or the eleven martyr-virgins, and the M. 
have been mistaken in a later age for a numeral. 
Against this it is urged that in no ancient calendar 

and the Eleven Thousand Virgiits 323 

does the M. precede the Virg. ; the usual manner 
of describing these saints being SS. M. XL Virg., 
till the number rose at a leap to eleven thousand. 

As yet we have had no circumstances relating to 
these ladies, but with the tenth century they begin 
to appear. Sigebert of Gemblours (d. 1112) is the 
first author to narrate them. Under the date 453, 
he reports the glorious victory of the Virgin Ursula. 
She was the only daughter of Nothus, an illustrious 
and wealthy British prince, and was sought in mar- 
riage by the son of a "certain most ferocious tyrant." 
Ursula had, however, dedicated herself to celibacy, 
and Ixer father was in great fear of offending God 
by consenting to the union, and of exasperating 
the king by refusing it However, the damsel 
solved the difficulty : by Divine inspiration, she per- 
suaded her father to agree to the proposal of the 
tyrant, but only subject to the condition that her 
father and the king should choose ten virgins of 
beauty and proper age, and should give them to her, 
and that she and they should each have a thousand 
damsels under them, and that on eleven triremes 
they should be suffered to cruize about for three 
years in the sanctity of unsullied virginity. Ursula 
made this condition in the hopes that the difficulty of 
fulfilling it would prove insurmountable, or that she 
Y 2 

824 5. Ursula 

might be able, should it be overcome, to persuade 
a vast host of maidens to devote themselves to the 

The tyrant succeeded in mustering the desired 
number, and then presented them to Ursula, to- 
gether with eleven elegantly furnished galleys. For 
three years these damsels sailed the blue seas. One 
day the wind drove them into the port of Tiela, in 
Gaul, and thence up the Rhine to Cologne. Thence 
they pursued their course to Basle, where they 
left their ships, and crossed the Alps on foot, de- 
scended into Italy, and visited the tombs of the 
Apostles at Rome. In like manner they returned, 
but, falling in with the Huns at Cologne, they were 
every one martyred by the barbarians. 

This story bears evidence of being an addition to 
the original text of Sigebert's Chronicle, for it is 
not to be found in the original MS. in the hand- 
writing of the author, though marks of stitches at 
the side of the page indicate that an additional 
item had been appended, but by whom, or when, 
is not clear, as the strip of parchment which had 
been tacked on is lost. 

Otto of Freisingen (d. 1158) mentions the legend 
in his Chronicle ; for he says, "This army (of the 
Huns) when overrunning the earth, crowned with 

and the Eleven Ihousand Virgins 325 

martyrdom the eleven thousand virgins at Co- 

A legend of the twelfth century, given by Surius, 
invests the story with all the colours of a romance. 
In the same century it appears in the marvellous 
history of Geoffrey of Monmouth (d. 1154). 
Whether this legend was in the Welsh book of 
Walter the Archdeacon, from which the good 
Bishop of S. Asaph derived so much of his history, 
does not appear. The story, as told by him, differs 
materially from that received in Germany. He re- 
lates that the Emperor Maximian, having depopu- 
lated Northern Gaul, sent to Britain for colonies 
wherewith to re-people the waste country. Thus 
out of Armorica he made a second Britain, which he 
put under the control of Conan Meriadoc. He then 
turned his arms eastward, and, having established 
himself at Treves, commenced hostilities against the 
emperors Gratian and Valentinian, who disputed 
with him the imperial purple. In the meanwhile 
Conan was defending Brittany against the incursions 
of the neighbouring Gauls, but, finding that his troops 
would not settle without wives, he sent to Britain for 
a cargo of damsels, who might become the spouses of 
his soldiers, and raise up another generation of fight- 
ing men to continue the war with the Gauls. At thiis 

326 5. Ursula 

time there reigned In Cornwall a king, DIonotus by 
name, who had succeeded his brother Caradoc on 
the throne. He was blessed with a daughter of 
singular beauty, named Ursula, whose hand Conan 
desired to obtain. DIonotus, having received a 
message from the prince of Armorica stating his 
difficulties, at once collected a body of eleven thou- 
sand girls of noble rank, and sixty thousand of low 
birth, and shipped them on the Thames for the 
Armorican colony of expectant husbands. 

No sooner, however, had the fleet left the mouth 
of the Thames, than it was scattered by the winds, 
and, some of the vessels having been driven ashore 
on barbarous island coasts, the damsels were either 
killed or enslaved ; some became the prey of the 
execrable army of Guanlus and Melga, kings of the 
Huns and Picts, who, falling upon the band of luck- 
less virgins, massacred them without compunction. 

It is evident that Geoffrey did not regard this 
legend as Invested with sanctity, and he tells it as 
an historical, and not a haglological fact. 

In 1106 Cologne was besieged, and the walls in 
several places were battered down. Directly the 
enemy were gone, the inhabitants began to rebuild 
them ; and, as the foundations had suffered, they 
were compelled to relay them. 

and the Elevcji Thousand Virgins 327 

Now it happened that the old walls ran across 
the ancient cemetery of the Roman settlement of 
Colonia Agrippina. Consequently in redigging the 
foundations a number of bones were discovered, 
especially at one spot. Thereupon some ecstatic 
or excitable visionary beheld two females in a halo 
of light, who indicated the bones as those of the 
virgin martyrs. Immediately enthusiasm was 
aroused, and the cemetery was examined. Innu- 
merable bones were found, together with urns, arms, 
stone cists, and monumental inscriptions. The old 
Roman cemetery became a quarry of relics, appa- 
rently inexhaustible. But in the midst of the 
religious enthusiasm of the clergy and devotees of 
Cologne, a sudden difficulty occurred, which pro- 
duced bewilderment in the faithful, and mockery 
in the unbelieving. A large number of bones and 
inscriptions belonging to men were discovered ; thus 
a Simplicius, a Pantulus, an Aetherius, were com- 
memorated on the slabs exhumed, and the great 
size of some of the tibia rendered it certain that 
they had never belonged to slender virgins. 

In the midst of the dismay reigning in the breasts 
of the good Catholics at this untoward discovery, 
appeared, most opportunely, an ecstatic nun, Eli- 
^sabeth by name, who resided in the convent of 


Schonau. This visionary solved the difficulty, tOj 
the great edification of the faithful. She fell into 
trances, during which she was vouchsafed wondrous 
revelations, which she detailed in Latin to her 
brother Egbert, who alone was suffered to be 
present during her ecstasies. According to her] 
account, the Pope Cyriacus, the cardinals of Rome, 
several bishops, priests, and monks, had been so , 
edified at the sight of the holy virgins in Rome,] 
that they had followed them on their return as far] 
as Cologne, where they, as well as the damsels, hadj 
won the martyr's palm. 

Thus, in a most satisfactory way, the presence of 
these male bones was accounted for, and no scandal 
attached to the chaste troop of male and femah 
celibates which had crossed the Alps, and descendec 
the Rhine, to fall before the sword of the barbarian. 
Simplicius was ascertained to have been Archbisho] 
of Ravenna, Pantulus to have been Bishop of Basle^ 
and Aetherius proved to have been the bridegrooni| 
elect of Ursula, who had been converted to Chris- 
tianity, and had come up the Rhine to meet hij 
saintly betrothed. 

A little difficulty occurred on another point. How] 
was it that the martyrs were provided with ston( 
coffins and sepulchral slabs } 

and the Eleven Thonsand Virgiits 329 

In order to explain this, another incident was 
added to the legend by the vision-seeing nun. 

Jacobus, Archbishop of Antioch, a Briton by 
birth, had gone to Rome to visit Cyriacus the Pope, 
but had learned, on his arrival, that his holiness had 
been last seen clambering the Alps in the train of 
eleven thousand virgins of entrancing beauty. The 
Eastern patriarch at once followed the successor of 
S. Peter, and reached Cologne on the morrow of 
the great massacre. He thereupon cut the names 
and titles of many of the deceased on stone — how 
he ascertained their names is not stated ; but, before 
he had accomplished his task, the Huns discovered 
him engaged in his pious work, and dispatched him. 

Doubt and disbelief were now silenced, and the 
ecstatic nun, having finished her revelations con- 
cerning the eleven thousand, died in the odour of 

Scarcely was she dead before fresh discoveries 
in the old cemetery reopened the scandal. 

A considerable number of children's bones were 
exhumed, and some of these belonged to infants 
but a few months old. This was a startling and 
awkward discovery, seriously compromising to the 
memories of the Pope, cardinals, and prelates who 
had accompanied the young ladies from Rome, and 

330 S. Ursula 

arousing a suspicion that the damsels had not been 
the sole managers of their vessels on the high seas, , 
as the early legends had stated. 

The nun, Elizabeth of Schonau, was dead. Wh( 
was there then to clear the characters of these 
glorious martyrs ? 

Fortunately, an old Praemonstratine monk, named! 
Richard, an Englishman, lived in the diocese ofj 
Cologne, in the abbey of Arnsberg. He waj 
keenly alive to the slur cast upon the fair fame ol 
his national saints, and, by means of visions, laboured 
effectively to vindicate it. He declared that thej 
eleven thousand had excited such enthusiasm h 
England, that their married relations had accom- 
panied them in the vessels, with their children oi 
all ages, and that all together had received the 
martyr's crown. Richard added that a Siciliai 
princess, Gerasina, had accompanied the pilgrims^ 
together with her four daughters and baby son 
also that an empress of the Eastern empire, Con- 
stantia by name, had suffered with them. Kings, 
princes, and princesses, of Norway, Sweden, Ireland, 
Flanders, Normandy, Brabant, Friesland, Denmarl 
— in a word, of all lands with which a geographer of 
the twelfth century was acquainted — had joined the 
expedition, in their desire to testify their admira- 

and the Eleven Thousand Virgins 331 

tion of the chastity and piety of Ursula and 
her companions. Holofernes, bridegroom elect of 
Ursula, notwithstanding his father's opposition, 
insisted on taking command of the fleet. Under 
him were three hundred sailors who rnanned the 

Such is the history of the expansion and final 
development of this curious fable. It exhibits a 
series of misconceptions and impostures, we should 
hope, unparalleled. To this day the church of S. 
Ursula at Cologne is visited by thousands who 
rely on the intercession of a saint who never 
existed, and believe in the miraculous virtues of 
relics which are those of pagans. 

But something worse remains to be told. 
Ursula is no other than the Swabian goddess 
Ursel or Horsel transformed into a saint of the 
Christian calendar. 

"A part of the Suevi sacrifice to Isis," says 
Tacitus, in his Germania. This Isis has been iden- 
tified by Grimm with a goddess Ziza, who was 
worshipped by the inhabitants of the parts about 
Augsburg. Kiichlen, an Augsburg poet of the 
fourteenth century, sings — 

" They built a ^reat temple therein, 
To the honour of Zise the heathen sroddess. 

332 5. Ursula 

Whom they after heathen customs 

Worshipped at that time : 

The city was named eke Zisaris, 

After the heathen goddess ; that was its glory. 

The temple long stood entire, 

Until its fall was caused by age." 

But it may be questioned whether Tacitus called 
the goddess worshipped by the Suevi, Isis, becausej 
the name resembled that of the German deity, ori 
whether he so termed her because he traced a 
similarity in the myths and worship of the two 
goddesses. I believe the latter to have been the 
case. The entire passage reads, " They chiefly 
worship Mercury, to whom on certain days they 
sacrifice human beings. They appease Hercules; 
and Mars with beasts, and part of the Suevi sacri- 
fice to Isis. Whence the cause and origin of the 
foreign rite I have not ascertained, except that the 
symbol itself, in shape of a Liburnian ship, indicates 
that the religion was brought from abroad ^." 

Here, in the same sentence, three of the German 
gods are called by Roman names. Mercury is 
Woden : Hercules, or Mars, is Thorn It is, there- 
fore, probable that the fourth, Isis, is named from 
a resemblance of attributes, rather than identity of 
name. Again, in connexion with the mention of 

- Tacitus, Germania, ix. 

and the Eleven ThoiLsand Virgins 333 

Isis, he alludes to a rite observed by the Suevi of 
carrying about a ship in her honour. Now, in 
Rome, the 5th March (III. Non. Mart.) was called, 
in the Kalendarium Rusticum, the day of the Isidis 
navigium. This is referred to by Apuleius in his 
Metamorphoses. The goddess appeared to the poor 
ass, and said, " The morrow that from the present 
night will have its birth is a day that eternal religion 
hath appointed as a holy festival, at a period when, 
the tempests of winter having subsided, the waves 
of the stormy sea abated, and the surface of the 
ocean become navigable, my priests dedicate to me 
a new ship, laden with the first-fruits of spring, at 
the opening of the navigation " (Lib. xi.). To this 
alludes also Lactantius ^ 

The myth of Isis and her wanderings is too well 
known to be related. Now it is certain that in 
parts of Germany the custom of carrying about 
a ship existed through the Middle Ages to the 
present day, and was denounced by the Church 
as idolatrous. Grimm ^ mentions a very curious 
passage in the Chronicle of Rodulph, wherein it 
is related that, in 1133, a ship was secretly con- 
structed in a forest at Inda, and was placed on 

^ Lactant. Instit. i. 27. 
* Deutsche Myth. i. 237. 

334 »S. Ursula 

wheels, and rolled by the weavers to Aix, then 
to Maestrlcht, and elsewhere, amidst dances, and 
music, and scenes which the pious chronicler re- 
frains from describing. That it was regarded 
with abhorrence by the clergy, is evident from the 
epithets employed in describing it : navim infausto 
omine compactum — gentilitatis studium — profanasj 
simulacri excubias — maligni spiritus qui in illj 
ferebantur — infausti ominis monstrum ; and the lik< 

At Ulm, in Swabia, in 1530, the people were foi 
bidden the carrying about of ploughs and ships on" 
Shrove Tuesday. A like prohibition was decreed 
at Tubingen on the 5th March, 1584, against a 
similar practice. I have myself, on two occasions, 
seen ships dragged through the streets on wheels, 
upon Shrove Tuesday, at Mannheim on the Rhine. 
In Brussels is celebrated, I believe to this day, a 
festival called the Ommegank, in which a ship is 
drawn through the town by horses, with an image 
of the Blessed Virgin upon it, in commemoration of 
a miraculous figure of our Lady which came in a 
boat from Antwerp to Brussels. 

Sometimes the ship was replaced by a plough, 
and the rustic ceremony of Plough Monday in 
England is a relic of the same religious rite per- 
formed in honour oi the Teutonic Isis. 

and the Eleven Thousand Virgins 835 


This great goddess was known by different 
names among the various peoples of Germany. 
She may have been the same as Zisca, but, as 
we know absolutely nothing of the myth and 
attributes of that deity, we cannot decide with 
certainty. More probably she was the Holda, or 
HoUe, who still holds sway over the imagination 
of the German peasantry. 

Now Holda is the great pale lady who glides 
through the sky at night, in whose dark courts are 
many thousand bright-eyed damsels, all, like her, 
pure ; all, with her, suffering eclipse. 

" Siderum regina bicorais audi 
Luna puellas. 
O Ursula ! Princess among thy thousands of virgins, 

Pray for us I " 
Holda, or the Moon, is the wandering Isis, or 
Ursula, whom German poets love still to regard 
as sailing over heaven's deep in her silver boat. 

" Seh' Ziehen die Wolke mit der Brust voll Segen, 
Des Mondes Kahn im Meer der Nachte prangen." 

Anast. Grun. 

" Es schimmert, wie der Silberkahn, 
Der dort am Himmel strahlt." 

VON Stolberg. 

Holda, in Teutonic mythology, is a gentle lady 

336 5. Ursula 

with a sad smile on her countenance, ever accom- 
panied by the souls of maidens and children, which 
are under her care. She sits in a mountain of 
crystal, surrounded by her bright-eyed maidens, 
and comes forth to scatter on earth the winter 
snow, or to revive the spring earth, or bless the 
fruits of autumn. This company of virgins sur-| 
rounding her in the crystal vault of heaven is 
that described by ^schylus : ''Aarpcov KaroiEa vvk- 
repcov ofJL'^yvpLv (Agam. v. 4). 

The kindly Holda was in other parts calle( 
Gode, under which name she resembled Artemis, 
as the heavenly huntress accompanied by herj 
maidens. In Austria and Bavaria she was called] 
Perchta, or Bertha (the shining), and was supposed 
to have horns like Isis or lo, other lunar goddesses 
But in Swabia and Thuringia she was represented 
by Horsel or Ursul. 

This Horsel, in other places called the night 
bird Tutosel, haunted the Venusberg into which 
Tanhauser plunged. She lived there in the midst 
of her numerous troop of damsels, to assist the 
laborious farmer and bless faithful lovers, or to 
allure to herself those souls which still clung to 
the ancient faith. A beautiful and benignant 
goddess the peasantry ever regarded her, little 

and the Eleven Thousand Virzins 337 

heeding the brand put upon her pure brow by 
an indignant clergy, who saw in her only the 
Roman Venus in her grossest character, and not 
Aphrodite, the foam-begotten moon, rising silvery 
above the frothing sea. 

Further this legend shall not lead us. Its 
liistory is painful. 

That ancient myths should have penetrated and 
coloured Mediaeval Christianity is not to be won- 
dered at, for old convictions are not eradicated in 
the course of centuries. I shall, in this book, 
instance several cases in which they have left their 
impress on modern Protestant mythology. But 
it is sad that the Church should have lent herself 
to establish this fable by the aid of fictitious 
miracles and feigned revelations. And now, when 
minds weary with groping after truth, and not 
finding it in science, philosophy, and metaphysics, 
turn to the Church with yearning look, why should 
she repel them from clasping the Cross, which, in 
spite of all fables, "will stand whilst the world 
rolls," by her tenacity in cHnging to these idle 
and foolish tales, founded on paganism, and but- 
tressed with fraud } 

Is this cultus of Ursula and her eleven thousand 
nothing but a "pious belief"? A pious belief, 


338 5. Ursula 

which can trust in the moon and the myriad stars, 
and invoke them as saints in Paradise ! " If I 
beheld . . . the moon walking in brightness ; and 
my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth 
hath kissed my hand : this also were an iniquity 
to be punished by the judge : for I should havi 
denied the God that is above " (Job xxxi. 26 — 28). 

It is Truth which men yearn for now; and sacre 
Truth, when taught by a mouth which lends itse' 
to utter cunningly devised fables, is not listened to, 

If the Catholic Church abroad would only purg 
herself of these, her grand eternal doctrines would 
be embraced by thousands. But the fathers have, 
eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are se" 
on edge. 

The bibliography of the legend must be briefly 
discussed. It is not of remarkable interest. 

The revelations of Elizabeth of Schonau, and 
those of Hermann, Joseph of Steinfeld, will be 
found in Surius, "Vita Sanctorum," under Octo- 
ber % [St. 

" Epistola ad virgines Christi univ. super hystoria 
nova undecim milimum (sic!) virginum," without 
place and date, but belonging to the latter end of 
the fifteenth century, is very rare : I have not 
seen it. 


and the Eleven Thousand Virgins 339 

" Hjstoria vndecim milium virginum breviori 
atque faciliori modo pulcerrime collecta." Colon. 
T509, 4to. Very scarce also. 

"De Legende, vn hystorie der XI dusent jon- 
feren, s. 1. et a." (circ. 1490), a curious Low German 
legend, illustrated with quaint engravings, forty in 

De S. Lory, " Sainte Ursule triomphante des 
coeurs, de I'enfer, de I'empire, Patrone du celebre 
college de Sorbonne," Paris, i665, 4to. The 
legend has been carefully analyzed by Rettberg, 
in his " Deutschlands Kirchengeschichte," i. pp. 
Ill — 123. 

Crombach broke a lance in honour of the eleven 
thousand in 1647: his work, "Ursula Vindicata," 
Colon. 1647, ^o-v with three maps, is interesting as 
containing documentary evidence ; but it is dis- 
figured by the superstition of the writer. 

Leo, J. G., " airoaKlacFiia hist.-antiquarium de 
11,000 virginibus." Leucopetrae, 1731, 4to. Rei- 
schert, L., " Lebens-Geschichte u. Martyrtod der 
N. Ursula." Cologne, 1837, 8vo. 

Heinen, E. M. J., "Leben, Fahrt, u. Martyrtod 
der h. Ursula." Cologne, 1838, 8vo. Scheben, 
A., "Leben der h. Ursula." Cologne, 1850, 8vo. 

Schade, Oskar, " Die Sage v. der h. Ursula," 
Z 2 

340 5. Ursula and the Eleven Thotisand Virgins 

Hanover, 1854, 8vo. Also a beautiful series of 
illustrations of the legend copied from the interest- 
ing paintings in the church at Cologne, published 
by Kellerhoven, " La legende de S. Ursula." Leipzig 

Some curious stories of the appearances of the 
sacred virgin companions of Ursula, and of the] 
marvels wrought by their bones, occur in Caesariuj 
of Heisterbach's gossiping Dialogue of Miracles. 

€f)e Eegcnti of t^e (Kross 

Sibyll. vi. 26. 

T N the year 1850 chance led me to the discovery 
^ of a Gallo-Roman palace at Pont d'Oli (Pons 
Aulae), near Pau, in the south of France. I was 
able to exhume the whole of the ruins, and to 
bring to light one of the most extensive series 
of mosaic pavements extant. 

The remains consisted of a mansion two hundred 
feet long, paved throughout with mosaic : it was 
divided into summer and winter apartments ; the- 
latter heated by means of hypocausts, and of small 
size ; the former very large, and opening on to a 
corridor above the river, once adorned with white 
marble pillars, having capitals of the Corinthian 
order. One of the first portions of the palace to 
be examined was the atrium, out of which, on the 

The Lege7id of the Cross 

west, opened the tablinum, a semi-circular chambei 
panelled with alabaster and painted. 

The atrium contained a large quadrangular tan] 
or impluvium, the dwarf walls of which were encasec 
in variegated Pyrenean marbles. On the west sid( 
of the impluvium, below the step of the tablinum, 
the pavement represented five rows of squares. 
The squares in the first, third, and fifth rows were! 
filled with a graceful pattern composed of curves.] 
In the second and fourth rows, however, ever] 
fourth square contained a distinctly characterized] 
red cross on white ground, with a delicate whit< 
spine down the middle (Fig. 2). Some few 
these crosses had a black floriation in the angles,! 
much resembhng that met with in Gothic crosses] 
(Fig. 4). Immediately in front of the tablinum, 01 
the dwarf wall of the impluvium, stood the altar t( 
the Penates, which was found. The corresponding 
pavement on the east of the impluvium was similai 
in design to the other, but the S. George's crosses 
were replaced by those of S. Andrew, each limb] 
terminating either in a heart-shaped leaf or a] 
trefoil (Figs, i, 5). The design on the north and-] 
south was different, and contained no crosses. The) 
excavations to the north led to the summer apart- 
ment. The most northerly chamber measured 26] 

The Legend of the Cross 


feet by 22 feet ; it was not only the largest, but 
evidently the principal room of the mansion, for 
the pavement was the most elaborate and beautiful. 
It was bordered by an exquisite running pattern of 
vines and grape bunches, springing from, four drink- 
ing vessels in the centres of the north, south, east, 
and west sides. The pattern within this border 
was of circles, containing conventional roses alter- 
nately folded and expanded. This design was, 
however, rudely interrupted by a monstrous cross 

measuring 19 feet 8 inches by 13 feet, with its head 
towards the south, and its foot at the head of a 
flight of marble steps descending into what we were 

344 The Legend of the Cross 

unable to decide whether it was a bath or a vesti- 
bule. The ground of the cross was white ; the limbs 
were filled with cuttle, lobsters, eels, oysters, and fish, 
swimming as though in their natural element ; but 
the centre, where the arms intersected, was occu- 
pied by a gigantic bust of Neptune with his tridentJ 
The flesh was represented red ; the hair, and beardj 
and trident were a blue-black. The arms of th( 
figure did not show : a line joining the lower edge 
of the transverse limbs of the cross cut the figure 
at the breast, leaving the head and shoulders 
above. The resemblance to a crucifix was suffiJ 
ciently remarkable to make the labourers exclaimj 
as they uncovered it, " C'est le bon Dieu, c'est 
Jesus!" and they regarded the trident as th< 
centurion's spear. A neighbouring cure satisfie( 
himself that the pavement was laid down in con-1 
scious prophecy of Christianity, and he pointed to 
the chalices and grapes as symbolizing the holy 
Eucharist, and the great cross, at the head of what 
we believed to be a circular bath, as typical of 
Christian baptism. With regard to the cross, the 
following laws seem to have governed its represen- 
tation in the Gallo-Roman villa : — 

The S. George's cross occupied the place of 
honour in the chief room, and at the head of this 

The Legend of the Cross 347 

room, not in the middle, but near the bath or 
porch. Again, in the atrium this cross was re- 
peated twenty times in the principal place before 
the tablinum and altar of the household divinities, 
and again in connexion with water. Its colour was 
always red or white. 

Six varieties of crosses occurred in the villa 
(Figs. I — 5) : the S. George's cross plain ; the 
same with foliations in the angles ; the same 
inhabited by fish, and bust of Neptune : the 
Maltese cross : the S. Andrew's cross with 
trefoiled ends ; the same with heart-shaped 

On the discovery of the villa, several theories 
were propounded to explain the prominence given 
to the cross in the mosaics. 

It was conjectured by some that the Neptune 
crucifix was a satire upon the Christians. To 
this it was objected that the figure was too 
large and solemn, and was made too prominent, 
to be so taken ; that to the cross was assigned the 
place of honour; and that, independently of the 
bust of the sea-god, it was connected by the 
artists with the presence of water. 

It was supposed by others that the villa had 
belonged to a Christian, and that the execution of 

348 The Legend of the Cross 

his design in the pavement had been entrusted 
to pagans, who, through ignorance, had sub- 
stituted the head of Neptune for that of the 

Such a solution, though possible, is barely] 

My own belief is, that the cross was a! 
sacred sign among the Gaulish Kelts, and 
that the villa at Pau had belonged to a Gallo- 
Roman, who introduced into it the symbol ol 
the water-god of his national religion, and com- 
bined it with the representation of the marine] 
deity of the conquerors' creed. 

My reasons for believing the cross to havej 
been a Gaulish sign are these: — 

The most ancient coins of the Gauls were] 
circular, with a cross in the middle ; little wheels, I 
as it were, with four large perforations (Figs. 6, 7, 
8). That these rouelles were not designed toj 
represent wheels is apparent from there being! 
only four spokes, placed at right angles. More- 
over, when the coins of the Greek type took 
their place, the cross was continued as the orna- 
mentation of the coin. The gold and silver 
Greek pieces circulating at Marseilles were the 
cause of the abandonment of the primitive type; 

The Legend of the Cross 849 

and rude copies of the Greek coins were made 
by the Keltic inhabitants of Gaul. In copying the 
foreign pieces, they retained their own symbolic 

The reverse of the coins of the Volcse Tec- 
tosages, who inhabited the greater portion of 
Languedoc, was impressed with crosses, their 
angles filled with pellets, so like those on the 
silver coins of the Edwards, that, were it not 
for the quality of the metal, one would take 
these Gaulish coins to be the production of 
the Middle Ages. The Leuci, who inhabited the 
country round the modern Toul, had similar 
coins. One of their pieces has been figured 
by M. de Saulcy '. It represents a circle con- 
taining a cross, the angles between the arms 
occupied by a chevron. Some of the crosses 
have bezants, or pearls, forming a ring about 
them, or occupying the spaces between their 
limbs. Near Paris, at Choisy-le-Roy, was dis- 
covered a Gaulish coin representing a head, in 
barbarous imitation of that on a Greek medal, 
and the reverse occupied by a serpent coiled round 
the circumference, and enclosing two birds. 

' Revue de Numismatique, 1836. 


The Legend of the Cross 

Between these birds is a cross, with pellets 
the end of each limb, and a pellet in each! 

A similar coin has been found in numbers 
near Arthenay, in Loiret, as well as others of' 
analogous type. Other Gaulish coins bear the 
cross on both obverse and reverse. About two 
hundred pieces of this description were found 
in 1835, in the village of Cremiat-sur-Yen, near 
Quimper, in a brown earthen urn, with ashes • 
and charcoal, in a rude kistvaen of stone' 
blocks ; proving that the cross was used on the 
coins in Armorica, at the time when increma- 
tion was practised. This cross with pellets, a 
characteristic of Gaulish coins, became in time 
the recognized reverse of early French pieces, 
and introduced itself into England with the Anglo- 
Norman kings. 

We unfortunately know too little of the icono- 
graphy of the Gauls, to be able to decide whether 
the cross was with them the symbol of a water 
deity; but I think it probable, and for this 
reason, that it is the sign of gods connected, more 
or less remotely, with water in other religions. 
That it was symbolic among the Irish and British 
Kelts is more than probable. The temple in the 

The Legend of the Cross 351 

tumulus of Newgrange is in the shape of a cross 
with rounded arms (Fig. 9). Curiously enough, 
the so-called Phoenician ruin of Giganteia, in 
Gozzo, resembles it in shape. The shamrock of 
Ireland derives its sacredness from its affecting the 
same form. In the mysticism of the Druids the 
stalk or long arm of the cross represented the way 
of life, and the three lobes of the clover-leaf, or the 
short arms of the cross, symbolized the three con- 
ditions of the spirit-world, Heaven, Purgatory, 
and Hell. 

Let us turn to the Scandinavians. Their god 
Thorr was the thunder, and the hammer was his 
symbol. It was with this hammer that Thorr 
crushed the head of the great Mitgard serpent, that 
he destroyed the giants, that he restored the dead 
goats to life which drew his car, that he conse- 
crated the pyre of Baldur. This hammer was a 

Just as the S. George's cross appears on the 
Gaulish coins, so does the cross cramponnee, or 
Thorr's' hammer (Fig. 11), appear on the Scan- 
dinavian moneys. 

In ploughing a field near Bornholm, in Fyen, 
in 1835, a discovery was made of several gold 
coins and ornaments belonging to ancient Danish 

35^ The Legend of the Cross 

civilization. The collection consisted of personal 
ornaments, such as brooches, fibulas, and torques, 
and also of pieces of money, to which were fastened 
rings in order that they might be strung on a neck- 
lace. Among these were two rude copies of coins 
of the successors of Constantine ; but the others 
were of a class very common in the North. They] 
were impressed with a four-footed horned beast,, 
girthed, and mounted by a monstrous human head, 
intended, in barbarous fashion, to represent the 
rider. In front of the head was the sign of Thorr's 
hammer, a cross cramponnee. Four of the specimens 
bearing this symbol exhibited likewise the name of 
Thorr in runes. A still ruder coin, discovered withj 
the others, was deficient in the cross, whose plac( 
was occupied by a four-point star^ 

Among the flint weapons discovered in Denmark] 
are stone cruciform hammers, with a hole at the' 
intersection of the arms for the insertion of the 
haft (Fig. lo). As the lateral limbs could have 
been of little or no use, it is probable that these 
cruciform hammers were those used in conse- 
crating victims in Thorr's worship. 

The cross of Thorr is still used in Iceland as a 

* Transactions of the Society of Northern Antiquaries for 

The Legend of the Cross 353 

magical sign in connexion with storms of wind and 

King Olaf, Longfellow tells us, when keeping 
Christmas at Drontheim — 

" O'er his drinking-horn, the sign 
He made of the Cross Divine, 

As he drank, and mutter'd his prayers ; , 
But the Berserks evermore 
Made the sign of the Hammer of Thorr 
Over theirs/' 

Actually they both made the same symbol. 

This we are told by Snorro Sturleson, in the 

Heimskringla ^ when he describes the sacrifice at 

Lade, at which King Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son 

was present : " Now, when the first full goblet was 

filled. Earl Sigurd spoke some words over it, and 

blessed it in Odin's name, and drank to the king 

out of the horn ; and the king then took it, and 

made the sign of the cross over it. Then said 

Kaare of Greyting, ' What does the king mean by 

doing so ? will he not sacrifice V But Earl Sigurd 

replied, ^ The king is doing what all of you do who 

trust in your power and strength ; for he is blessing 

the full goblet in the name of Thorr, by making 

the sign of his hammer over it before he drinks 


* Heimskringla, Saga iv., c. i8. 

A a 

The Legend of the Cross 


the Middle Ages to di 

were rung 
away thunder. Among the German peasantry- 
sign of the cross is used to dispel a thunder-stori 
The cross is used because it resembles Thorr 
hammer, and Thorr is the Thunderer : for thj 
same reason bells were often marked with tl 
"fylfot," or cross of Thorr (Fig. ii), especially 
where the Norse settled, as in Lincolnshire an< 
Yorkshire. Thorr's cross is on the bells 
Appleby, and Scotherne, Waddingham, Bishepl 
Norton, and West Barkwith, in Lincolnshire, o^ 
those of Hathersage in Derbyshire, Mexborougl 
in Yorkshire, and many more. 

The fylfot is curiously enough the sacred Swas 
lika of the Buddhist ; and the symbol of Buddha 
the reverse of a coin found at Ugain is a cross 
equal arms, with a circle at the extremity of eacl 
and the fylfot in each circle. 

The same peculiar figure occurs on coins 
Syracuse, Corinth, and Chalcedon, and is frequently 
employed on Etruscan cinerary urns. It curious!^ 
enough appears on the dress of a fossor, as a soi 
of badge of his office, on one of the paintings 
the Roman catacombs. 

But, leaving the cross cramponnee, let us examin^ 
some other crosses. 

The Legend of the Cross 355 

Sozomen, the ecclesiastical historian, says that, 
on the destruction of the Serapium in Egypt, 
" there were found sculptured on the stones certain 
characters regarded as sacred, resembling the sign 
of the cross. This representation, interpreted by 
those who knew the meaning, signified 'The Life 
to come.' This was the occasion of a great num- 
ber of pagans embracing Christianity, the more so 
because other characters announced that the temple 
would be destroyed when this character came to 
light \" Socrates gives further particulars : " Whilst 
they were demolishing and despoiling the temple 
of Serapis, they found characters, engraved on 
the stone, of the kind called hieroglyphics, the 
which characters had the figure of the cross. 
When the Christians and the Greeks [i. e. heathen] 
saw this, they referred the signs to their own 
religions. The Christians, who regarded the cross 
as the symbol of the salutary passion of Christ, 
thought that this character was their own. But 
the Greeks said it was common to Christ and 
Serapis ; though this cruciform character is, in 
fact, one thing to the Christians, and another 
to the Greeks. A controversy having arisen, 

^ Sozomen, Hist. Eccles. vii., c. 14. 
A a 2 


he Legend of the Cross 

some of the Greeks [heathen] converted to Chrl 
tianity, who understood the hieroglyphics, inter- 
preted this cross-hke figure to signify * The Lif< 
to come.' The Christians, seizing on this as i; 
favour of their religion, gathered boldness an 
assurance ; and as it was shown by other sacre 
characters that the temple of Serapis was to 
have an end when was brought to light this cruci- 
form character, signifying 'The Life to come,' a 
great number were converted and were baptize 
confessing their sins ^" 

Rufinus, who tells the story also, says that this 
took place at the destruction of the Serapium at 
Canopus^; but Socrates and Sozomen. probably 
followed; Sophronius, who wrote a book on th 
destruction of the Serapium, and locate the even; 
in Alexandria ''. 

Rufinus says,. "The Egyptians are said to hav 
the sign of the Lord's cross among those lette 
which are called sacerdotal — of which letter 
figure this, they say, is the interpretation : ' Th 
Life to come.' " 

5 Socrat. Hist. Eccles. v., c. 17, 

« Rufin. Hist. Eccles. ii., c. 29. 

^ " Sophronius, vir apprime eruditus, laudes Bethleem 
hue puer, et nuper de subversione Serapis insignem librum 
composuit."— Hieronym. Vit. Illust. 

r- ' ■ 





The Legend of the Cross 357 

There is some slight difficulty as to fixing the 
date of the destruction of the Serapium. Marcel- 
linus refers it to the year 389, but some chrono- 
logists have moved it to 391. It was certainly 
overthrown in the reign of Theodosius I. 

There can be little doubt that the cross in the 
Serapium was the Crux ansata (Fig. 12), the 
S. Anthony's cross, or Tau with a handle. The 
antiquaries of last century supposed it to be a 
Nile key or a phallus, significations purely hypo- 
thetical and false, as were all those they attri- 
buted to Egyptian hieroglyphs. As Sir Gardner 
Wilkinson remarks, it is precisely the god Nilus 
who is least often represented with this symbol 
in his hand ^ and the Nile key is an ascertained 
figure of different shape. Now it is known for 
certain that the symbol is that of life. Among 
other indications, we have only to cite the Rosetta 
stone, on which it is employed to translate the 
title al(oi'6pLo^ given to Ptolemy Epiphanius. 

The Christians of Egypt gladly accepted this 
witness to the cross, and reproduced it in their 
churches and elsewhere, making it precede, follow, 
or accompany their inscriptions. Thus, beside 

8 Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, iv. 
P- 341. 

358 The Legend of the Cross 

one of the Christian inscriptions at Phile is seen 
both a Maltese cross and a crux ansata. In a 
painting covering the end of a church in the 
cemetery of El-Khargeh, in the Great Oasis, are 
three handled crosses around the principal sub- 
ject, which seems to have been a figure of aj 
saint I 

Not less manifest is the intention in an in-l 
scription in a Christian church to the east of the] 
Nile in the desert. It is this : — 


Beside, or in the hand of, the Egyptian gods, this' 
symbol is generally to be seen : it is held in'the^J 
right hand, by the loop, and indicates the Eter-^B 
nity of Life which is the attribute of divinity. 
When Osiris is represented holding out the crux 
ansata to a mortal, it means that the person to 
whom he presents it has put off mortality, and 
entered on the life to come. 

Several theories have been started to account 
for the shape. The Phallic theory is monstrous, 
and devoid of evidence. It has also been sug- 
gested that the Tau (T) represents a table or altar, 

8 Hoskins, Visit to the Great Oasis, Lond. 1837, plate 

The Legend of the Cross 359 

and that the loop symbolizes a vase ^ or an ^g'g ' 
upon that altar. 

These explanations are untenable when brought 
into contact with the monuments of Egypt. The 
ovoid form of the upper member is certainly a 
handle, and is so used (Fig. 13). No one knows, 
and probably no one ever will know, what origin- 
ated the use of this sign, and gave it such signi- 

The Greek cross is also found on Egyptian 
monuments, but less frequently than the cross of 
S. Anthony. A figure of a Shari (Fig. 14), from Sir 
Gardner Wilkinson's book, has a necklace round his 
throat, from which depends a pectoral cross. A 
similar ornament hangs on the breast of Tiglath 
Pileser, in the colossal tablet from Nimroud, now 
in the British Museum (Fig. 15). Another king 
from the ruins of Nineveh wears a Maltese cross on 
his bosom. And another, from the hall of Nisroch, 
carries an emblematic necklace, consisting of the 
sun surrounded by a ring, the moon, a Maltese 

^ " Hieroglyphica ejusdem (vocis) figura fonnam exhibet 
mensas sacrae fulcro innixae cui vas quoddam religionis indi- 
cium superpositum est." — P. Ungarelli, Interpretat. Obelisco- 
rum UrbiSj p. 5. 

2 Dognee, Les Symboles Antiques, L'(Euf. Bruxellcs, 

360 The Legend of the Cross 

cross likewise in a ring, a three-horned cap, an 
symbol like two horns ^ 

A third Egyptian cross is that represented Fig;j 
1 6, which apparently is intended for a Latin cros 
rising out of a heart, like the mediaeval emblem o 
" Cor in Cruce, Crux in Corde : " it is the hieroglyph 
of goodness \ 

The handled cross was certainly a sacred symbo' 
among the Babylonians. It occurs repeatedly on; 
their cylinders, bricks, and gems. 

On a cylinder in the Paris Cabinet of Antiquities, 
published by Miinter", are four figures, the first 
winged, the second armed with what seems to be 
thunderbolts. Beside him is the crux ansata, wit 
a hawk sitting on the oval handle. The other 
figures are a woman and a child. This cross iSj 
half the height of the deity. 

Another cylinder in the same Cabinet represent 
three personages. Between two with tiaras is th 
same symbol. A third in the same collectio 
bears the same three principal figures as the first, 
The winged deity holds a spear ; the central god 

^ Bonomi, Nineveh and its Palaces, pp. 303, 333, 414. 
* H. W. Westrop, in Gentleman's Magazine, N. S., voLj 
XV., p. 80. 

5 Miinter, Religion d. Babylonier, Taf. i. 


The Legend of the Cross 361 

is armed with a bundle of thunderbolts and a dart, 
and is accompanied by the cross ; the third, a 
female, bears a flower. On another and still more 
curious cylinder is a monarch or god, behind whom 
stands a servant holding up the symbol (Fig. 17). 
The god is between two handled crosses, and 
behind the servant is a Maltese cross. Some way 
above is a bird with expanded wings. Again, on 
another the winged figure is accompanied by the 
cross. A remarkable specimen, from which I have 
copied the principal figure (Fig. 18), represents a 
god holding the sacred sign by the long arm, 
whilst a priest offers him a gazelle. 

An oval seal, of white chalcedony, engraved in 
the Memoires de I'Academie royale des Inscrip- 
tions et Belles Lettres (vol. xyi.), has as subject 
a standing figure between two stars, beneath which 
are handled crosses. Above the head of the deity 
is the triangle, or symbol of the Trinity. 

This seal is of uncertain origin : it is supposed 
not to be Babylonish, but Phoenician. The Phoe- 
nicians also regarded the cross as a sacred sign. 
The goddess Astarte, the moon, the presiding di- 
vinity over the watery element, is represented on 
the coiAs of Byblos holding a long staff surmounted 
by a cross, and resting her foot on the prow of a 


TJic Legend of the Cross 

galley, and not unlike the familiar figures of Faith 
on the Christian Knowledge Society books. 

The Cyclopean temple at Gozzo, the island 
adjacent to Malta, has been supposed to be a 
shrine of the Phoenicians to Mylitta or Astarte. 
It is of a cruciform shape (Fig. 9). A superb 
medal of Cilicia, bearing a Phoenician legend, 
and struck under the Persian domination, has on 
one side a figure of this goddess with a crux 
ansata by her side, the lower member split. 

Another form of the cross (Figs. 19, 20) is 
repeated frequently and prominently on coins of 
Asia Minor. It occurs as the reverse of a silver 
coin supposed to be of Cyprus, on several Cilician 
coins : it is placed beneath the throne of Baal of 
Tarsus, on a Phoenician coin of that town, bearing 
the legend tlJl 7J7I1 (Baal Tharz). A medal, pos- 
sibly of the same place, with partially obliterated 
Phoenician characters, has the cross occupying the 
entire field of the reverse side. Several, with in- 
scriptions in unknown characters, have a ram on 
one side, and the cross and ring on the other. 
Another has the sacred bull accompanied by this 
symbol ; others have a lion's head on obverse, 
and the cross and circle on the reverse. 

A beautiful Sicilian medal of Camarina bears a 

The Legend of the Cross 363 

swan and altar, and beneath the altar is one of 
these crosses with a ring attached to it ^ 

As in Phoenician iconography this cross generally 
accompanies a deity, in the same manner as the 
handled cross is associated with the Persepolitan, 
Babylonish, and Egyptian gods, we may conclude 
that it had with the Phoenicians the same signifi- 
cation of life eternal. That it also symbolized 
regeneration through water, I also believe. On 
Babylonish cylinders it is generally employed in 
conjunction with the hawk or eagle, either seated 
on it, or flying above it. This eagle is Nisroch, 
whose eyes are always flowing with tears for the 
death of Tammuz. Nesr, or Nisroch, is certainly 
the rain-cloud. In Greek iconography Zeus, the 
heaven, is accompanied by the eagle to symbolize 
the cloud. On several Phoenician or uncertain 
coins of Asia Minor the eagle and the cross go 
together. Therefore I think that the cross may 
symbolize life restored by rain. 

An inscription inThessaly, EPMAH X0ONIOY, 
is accompanied by a Calvary cross (Fig. 21) ; and 
Greek crosses of equal arms adorn the tomb of 

* These medals are engraved to accompany the article of 
M. Raoul-Rochette on the Croix ansee, in the Mem. de 
I'Academie des Inscr. et Belles Lettres, tom. xvi. 

364 The Legejtd of the Cross 

Midas, in Phrygia. Crosses of different shapes, 
chiefly like Figs. 2 and 1 1, are common on ancient 
cinerary urns in Italy. These two forms occur on 
sepulchral vessels found under a bed of volcanic 
tufa on the Alban mount, and of remote antiquity. 

It is curious that the T should have been used 
on the roll of the Roman soldiery as the sign of 
life, whilst the designated death \ 

But, long before the Romans, long before the 
Etruscans, there lived in the plains of Northern 
Italy a people to whom the cross was a religious 
symbol, the sign beneath which they laid their 
dead to rest ; a people of whom history tells 
nothing, knowing not their name ; but of whom 
antiquarian research has learned this, that they 
lived in ignorance of the arts of civilization, that 
they dwelt in villages built on platforms over 
lakes, and that they trusted in the cross to guard, 
and may be to revive, their loved ones whom they 
committed to the dust. Throughout Emilia are 
found remains of these people ; these remains 
form quarries whence manure is dug by the 
peasants of the present day. These quarries 

' Isidor. Origin, i., c. 23. "Tnota in capite versiculi sup- 
posita superstitem designat." Persius, Sat. iv. 13. Rufin. 
in Hieronym. ap. Casaubon ad Pers. 

The Legend of the Cross 365 

go by the name of terramares. They are vast 
accumulations of cinders, charcoal, bones, frag- 
ments of pottery, and other remains of human 
industry. As this earth is very rich in phosphates, 
it is much appreciated by the agriculturists as a 
dressing for their land. In these terramares there 
are no human bones. The fragments of earthen- 
ware belong to articles of domestic use ; with them 
are found querns, moulds for metal, portions of 
cabin floors and walls, and great quantities of 
kitchen refuse. They are deposits analogous to 
those which have been discovered in Denmark 
and in Switzerland. The metal discovered in the 
majority of these terramares is bronze. The re- 
mains belong to three distinct ages. In the first 
none of the fictile ware was turned on the wheel or 
fire-baked. Sometimes these deposits exhibit an 
advance of civilization. Iron came into use, and 
with it the potter's wheel was discovered, and the 
earthenware was put in the furnace. 

When in the same quarry these two epochs are 
found, the remains of the second age are always 
superposed over those of the bronze age. 

A third period is occasionally met with, but only 
occasionally. A period when a rude art introduced 
itself, and representations of animals or human 

366 The Legend of the Cross ^| 

beings adorned the pottery. Among the remains 

of this period is found the first trace of money, the 

ses rude, Httle bronze fragments without shape. 

According to the calculations of M. Des Vergers, 

the great development of Etruscan civilization took 

place about 290 years before the foundation of 

Rome, more than 1040 years before our era. The 

age of the terramares must be long antecedent to 

the time of Etruscan civilization. The remote 

antiquity of these remains may be gathered from 

the amount of accumulation over them. A section 

of the deposit in Parma, where was one of these 

lacustrine villages is as follows : — 

It. in. 

Koman and later remains a depth of 4 i 

Midden of ancient inhabitants, three deposits sepa- 
rated by thin layers of red earth or ashes .... 68 

Latest bed of lake containing piles 7 o 

Secondary bed containing piles 3 3 

Original bed of lake containing piles 31 o 

Twice had the accumulation risen so as to necessi- 
tate the re-driving of piles, and over the last, the 
deposits had reached the height of 6 feet 8 inches. 
Since the age when these people vanished, earth 
has accumulated to the depth of 4 feet. 

At Castione, not far from the station of Borgo 
S. Donino, on the line between Parma and Placenza, 

The Legend of the Ci'oss 367 

is a convent built on a mound. Where that mound 
rises there was originally a lake, and the foundations 
of the building are laid in the ruins of an ancient 
population which filled the lake, and converted it 
into a hill of refuse. 

From the broken bones in the middens, we learn 
that the roebuck, the stag, the wild boar, then ranged 
the forests, that cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and dogs 
were domesticated; that these people had two kinds 
of horses, one a powerful animal, the other small- 
boned, and that horseflesh was eaten by the in- 
habitants of the terramares. 

Wheat, barley, millet, and beans have been found 
about the piles, together with the stones of wild 
plums, sloes, and cherries, also crab-apple pips. 

A bronze dagger was found at Castione, a spear- 
head of the same metal in the deposit of Bargone 
di Salso. A hatchet came from the terramare of 
Noceto ; quantities of little wheels, of unknown 
use, have been discovered, also hair-pins and 
combs. One, for a lady's back-hair, ornamented, 
and of stag's horn, came from the terramare of 
Fodico di Poviglio. The pottery found is mostly 
in fragments. Sometimes the bottoms of the vessels 
were rudely engraved with crosses (Figs. 22, 23, 24). 

At Villanova, in the Commune of S. Maria delle 

368 The Legend of the Cross 

Caselle, near Bologna, has been discovered a ceme- 
tery of this ancient people. The graves cover a 
space measuring about 73 yards by ofi yards. One 
hundred and thirty-three tombs have been examined. 
They were constructed of great boulders, rect- 
angular, somewhat cylindrical, and slightly conical. 
Earth had accumulated over them, and they were 
buried. They were about four feet deep. The cist 
was floored with slabs of freestone, the sides were 
built up of boulders ; other cists were constructed of 
slabs, and cubical in shape. A hundred and seventy- 
nine of the bodies had been burnt. Each tomb 
contained a cinerary urn containing the calcined 
human remains. The urns were of a peculiar shape, 
and appeared to have been made for the purpose. 
They resembled a dice-box, and consisted of a 
couple of inverted cones with a partition at their 
bases, where they were united. Half-melted remains 
of ornaments were found with some of the human 
ashes. In one vessel was a charred fragment of a 
horse's rib. Therefore it is likely that the favourite 
horse was sacrificed and consumed with his master. 
The mouth of the urn which contained the ashes 
of the deceased was closed with a little vessel or 
saucer. Near the remains of the dead were found 
curious solid double cones with rounded ends; these 

The Legend of the Cross 369 

ends were elaborately engraved with crosses (Figs. 
23. 25. 27). In the ossuaries made of double cones, 
around the diaphragm ran a line of circles contain- 
ing crosses (Fig. 26). 

Another cemetery o\ the same people exists at 
Golasecca, on the plateau of Somma, at the ex- 
tremity of the Lago Maggiore. A vast number of 
sepulchres have there been opened. They belong 
to the same period as those of Villanova, the age 
of lacustrine habitations. 

" That which characterizes the sepulchres of Go- 
lasecca, and gives them their highest interest," says 
M. de Mortillet, who investigated them, " is this, 
— first, the entire absence of all organic representa- 
tions ; we only found three, and they were excep- 
tional, in tombs not belonging to the plateau ; — 
secondly, the almost invariable presence of the 
cross under the vases in the tombs. When one re- 
verses the ossuaries, the saucer-lids, or the acces- 
sory vases, one saw almost always, if in good pre- 
servation, a cross traced thereon. . . . The exami- 
nation of the tombs of Golasecca proves in a most 
convincing, positive, and precise manner, that which 
the terramares of Emilia had only indicated, but 
which had been confirmed by the cemetery of 
Villanova ; that above a thousand years before 

B b 

370 The Legend of the Cross 

Christ, the cross was already a religious emblem 
of frequent employment ^" 

It may be objected to this, that the cross is ai 
sign so easily made, that it was naturally the 
first attempted by a rude people. There are,| 
however, so many varieties of crosses among the 
urns of Golasecca, and ingenuity seems to have 
been so largely exercised in diversifying this onel 
sign, without recurring to others, that I cannot but] 
believe the sign itself had a religious signification. 

On the other side of the Alps, at the samej 
period, lived a people in a similar state of civilization,' 
whose palustrine habitations and remains have 
been carefully explored. Among the Swiss potteries,] 
however, the cross is very rarely found. 

In the depths of the forests of Central America,' 
is a ruined city. It was not inhabited at the time 
of the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. 
They discovered the temples and palaces of 
Chiapa, but of Palenque they knew nothing. 
According to tradition it was founded by Votan 

® De Mortillet, Le signe de la Croix avant le Chris- 
tianisme. Paris, 1866. The title of this book is deceptive. 
The subject is the excavations of pre-historic remains in 
Northern Italy, and pre-Christian crosses are onlj casually 
and cursorily dealt with. 

TJie Legend of the Cross 371 

in the ninth century before the Christian era. 
The principal building in Palenque is the palace, 
%2^ feet long, by i8o feet, and 40 feet high. The 
Eastern fa9ade has fourteen doors opening on a 
terrace, with bas-reliefs between them. A noble 
tower rises above the courtyard in the centre. In 
this building are several small temples or 
chapels, with altars standing. At the back of one 
of these altars is a slab of gypsum, on which are 
sculptured tv/o figures standing, one on each side of 
a cross (Fig. 28), to which one is extending his 
hands with an offering of a baby or a monkey. The 
cross is surrounded with rich feather-work, and 
ornamental chains ^. 

The style of sculpture, and the accompanying 
hieroglyphic inscriptions leave no room for doubt- 
ing it to be a heathen representation. Above the 
cross is a bird of peculiar character, perched, as we 
saw the eagle Nisroch on a cross upon a Babylonish 
cylinder. The same cross is represented on old 
pre-Mexican MSS., as in the Dresden Codex, and 
that in the possession of Herr Fejervary, at the 
end of which is a colossal cross, in the midst of 
which is represented a bleeding deity, and figures 

^ Stephens, Central America. London, 1842. Vol. ii. 

B b 2 

The Legend of the Cross 

stand round a Tau cross, upon which is perched 
the sacred bird \ 

The cross was also used in the north of Mexico. 
It occurs amongst the Mixtecas and in Queredaro. 
Siguenza speaks of an Indian cross which was found 
in the cave of Mixteca Baja. Among the ruins on 
the island of Zaputero in Lake Nicaragua were also 
found old crosses reverenced by the Indians. White 
marble crosses were found on the island of S. Ulloa, ' 
on its discovery. In the state of Oaxaca, the 
Spaniards found that wooden crosses were erected 
as sacred symbols, so also in Aguatolco, and among 
the Zapatecas. The cross was venerated as far as 
Florida on one side, and Cibola on the other. In South 
America, the same sign was considered symbolical 
and sacred. It was revered in Paraguay. In 
Peru the Incas honoured a cross made out of a 
single piece of jasper, it was an emblem belong- \ 
ing to a former civilization. 

Among the Muyscas at Cumana the cross was re- 
garded with devotion, and was believed to be endued 
with power to drive away evil spirits; consequently 
new-born children were placed under the sign 

* Klemm, Kulturgeschichte, v. 142, 143. 
' See list of authorities in Miiller, Geschichte der Ameri- 
kanischen Urreligionen. Basel, 1855, pp. 371. 421. 498, 499. 

The Legend of the Cross 373 

Probably all these crosses, certainly those of 
Central America, were symbols of the Rain-god. 
This we are told by the conquerors, of the crosses 
on the island of Cozumel. The cross was not an 
original symbol of the Azteks and Tolteks, but 
of the Maya race, who inhabited Mexico, Guate- 
mala, and Yucatan. The Mayas were subdivided 
into the tribes of Totonacs, Othomi, Huasteks, 
Tzendales, &c., and were conquered by a Nahual 
race from the North, called Azteks and Tolteks, 
who founded the great Mexican empire with which 
Cortez and his Spaniards were brought in colli- 
sion ^ This Maya stock was said to have been 
highly civilized, and the conquered to have in- 
fluenced their conquerors. 

The Maya race invaded Central America, 
coming from the Antilles, when the country 
was peopled by the Quinamies, to whom the 
Cyclopean erections still extant are attributed. 
They were overthrown by Votan, B.C. 800. The 
cross was adopted by the Azteks, from the 
conquered Mayas. It was the emblem of Quia- 
teot, the god of Rain. In order to obtain rain 

3 It is exceedingly difficult to classify these races, and 
arrive at any exact conclusions with regard to their history. 
The Tzendales were probably never conquered. 

374 The Legend of the Cross 

little boys and girls were sacrificed to him, an 
their flesh was devoured at a sacred banquet by the 
chiefs. Among the Mexicans, the showery month 
Quiahuitl received its name from him. In Cibola, 
water as the generator was honoured under this 
symbol ; in Cozumel, the sacred cross in the tem- 
ples was of wood or stone, ten palms high, and to it 
were offered incense and quails. To obtain showers, 
the people bore it in procession. 

The Tolteks said that their national deity Quet- 
zalcoatl had introduced the sign and ritual of the 
cross, and it was their God of Rain and Health, and 
was called the Tree of Nutriment, or Tree of Life. 
On this account also was the mantle of the Toltek 
atmospheric god covered with red crosses. 

The cross was again a symbol of mysterious 
significance in Brahminical iconography. In the 
Cave of Elephanta, in India, over the head of a 
figure engaged in massacring infants, is to be seen 
the cross. It is placed by Miiller, in his " Glauben, 
Wissen, und Kunst der alten Hindus," in the hands 
of Seva, Brahma, Vishnu, Tvashtri (Fig, (29). This 
cross has a wheel in the centre, and is called Kiakra 
or Tschakra. When held by Vishnu, the world- 
sustaining principle, it signifies his power to pene- 
trate heaven and earth, and bring to naught the 
of powers evil. It symbolizes the eternal govern- 

The Legend of the Cross 375 

ance of the world, and to it the worshipper of 
Vishnu attributes as many virtues as does the 
devout Catholic to the Christian cross. Fra 
Paolino tells us it was used by the ancient kings 
of India as a sceptre. 

In a curious Indian painting reproduced by 
Miiller (Tab. i., fig. 2), Brahma is represented 
crowned with clouds, with lilies for eyes, with four 
hands — one holding the necklace of creation ; 
another the Veda ; a third, the chalice of the source 
of life ; the fourth, the fiery cross. Another paint- 
ing (Tab. I., fig. 78) represents Krishna in the 
centre of the world as its sustaining principle, with 
six arms, three of which hold the cross, one a 
sceptre of dominion, another a flute, a third a 
sword. Another (Tab. 11., fig. 61) gives Jama, 
the judge of the nether world, with spear, sword, 
scales, torch, and cross. Tab. 11., fig. 140, gives 
Brawani, the female earth principle, holding a lily, 
a flame, a sword, and a cross. The list of repre- 
sentations might be greatly extended. 

It was only natural that the early and mediaeval 
Christians, finding the cross a symbol of life among 
the nations of antiquity, should look curiously into 
the Old Testament, to see whether there were no\, 
foreshadowings in it of " the wood whereby right- 
eousness Cometh." 

376 The Legend of the Cross 

They found it in the blood struck on the linte 
and the door-posts of the houses of the Israelites \\ 
Egypt. They supposed the rod of Moses to ha) 
been headed with the Egyptian Crux ansata, 
which case its employment in producing the ston 
of rain and hail, in dividing the Red Sea, in brin^ 
ing streams of water from the rock, testify to 
symbolic character with reference to water. The] 
saw it in Moses with arms expanded on the Mount 
in the pole with transverse bar upon which w£ 
wreathed the brazen serpent, and in the two sticl 
gathered by the Widow of Sarepta. But especially 
was it seen in the passage of Ezekiel (ix. 4. 6), "The 
Lord said unto him. Go through the midst of th^ 
city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set 
mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigl 
and that cry for all the abominations that be done 
in the midst thereof Slay utterly old and young, 
both maids, and little children, and women : but 
come not near any man upon whom is the mark ; 
and begin at My sanctuary." In the Vulgate, it 
stands : "Et signa Thau super frontes vivorum 
gementium." There is some doubt as to whether 
the sign Thau should be inserted or not. The 
Septuagint does not give it. It simply says So? 
arj/jbeiov. S. Jerome testifies that the versions of 

The Legend of the Cross 377 

Aquila and Symmachus, written, the one under 
Adrian, the other under Marcus Aurelius, were 
without it, and that it was only in the version 
of Theodotion, made under Septimius Severus, 
that the y was inserted. Nevertheless S. Jerome 
adopted it in his translation. 

On the other hand TertuUian saw the cross in 
this passage ''. The Thau was the old Hebrew 
character, which the Samaritan resembled, and 
which was shaped like a cross. S. Jerome pro- 
bably did not adopt his rendering without founda- 
tion, for he was well skilled in Hebrew, and he 
refers again and again to this passage of EzekieP. 
The Epistle of S. Barnabas seems to allude to it ^ ; 
so do S. Cyprian, S. Augustine, Origen, and 
S. Isidore ^ Bishop Lowth was disposed to 
accept the Thau, so was Dr. Miinter, the Pro- 
testant bishop of Zeeland. But, indeed, there 
need be little doubt as to the passage. The 

^ Adv. Marcion. iii. 22 : " Est enim littera, Graecorum 
Thau, nostra autem T, species crucis quam portendebant 
futuram in frontibus nostris apud veram et catholicam Hie- 

* In Ezech. ix. 4. Epistol. ad Fabiol. In Isaia c. Ixvi. 

^ Epist. ch. ix. : Iravpo^ iv rw T eixeXkev e^eiv ttjv X'-^P'-^- 

7 Cypr. Testimon. adv. Jud. ii. c. 27. August, de Alterc 
Synag. et Eccles. 

378 The Legend of the Cross ^^ 

word for sign used by the prophet is li^ Tau\ 
meaning, as Gesenius says in his Lexicon, signum\ 
cruciforme ; and he adds, "The Hebrews on their I 
coins adopted the most ancient cruciform sign +." j 

The Mediaevals went further still, they desired to | 
see the cross still stronger characterized in the his- 
tory of the Jewish Church, and as the records of | 
the Old Covenant were deficient on that point, they j 
supplemented them with fable. ' 

That fable is the romance or Legend of the Cross, i 
a legend of immense popularity in the Middle Ages, j 
if we may judge by the numerous representations of] 
its leading incidents, which meet us in stained glass j 
and fresco. 

In the churches of Troyes alone, it appears on 
the windows of S. Martin-es-Vignes, of S. Panta- 
leon, S. Madeleine, and S. Nizier^ , 

It is frescoed along the walls of the choir of the 
church of S. Croce at Florence, by the hand of 
Agnolo Gaddi. Pietro della Francesca also dedi- 
cated his pencil to the history of the Cross in a 
series of frescoes in the Chapel of the Bacci, in the 
church of S. Francesco at Arezzo. It occurs as a 
predella painting among the specimens of early art 

^ Curiositcs de la Champagne. Paris, i860. 

The Legend of the Cross 379 

in the Academia delle Belle Arti at Venice, and is 
the subject of a picture by Beham in the Munich 
Gallery ^ The legend is told in full in the Vita 
Christi, printed at Troyes in 151 7, in the Legenda 
Aurea of Jacques de Voragine, in an old Dutch 
work, " Gerschiedenis van det heyhghe Cruys," in 
a French MS. of the thirteenth century in the 
British Museum. Gervase of Tilbury relates a 
portion of it in his Otia Imperalia ^ quoting from 
Comestor; it appears also in the Speculum His- 
toriale, in Gottfried von Viterbo, in the Chronicon 
Engelhusii, and elsewhere. 

Gottfried introduces a Hiontus in the place of 
Seth in the following story ; Hiontus is corrupted 
from lonicus or lonithus. 

The story is as follows : — 

When our first father was banished Paradise, he 
lived in penitence, striving to recompense for the 
past by prayer and toil. When he reached a 
great age and felt death approach, he summoned 
Seth to his side, and said, " Go, my son, to the 
terrestrial Paradise, and ask the Archangel who 
keeps the gate to give me a balsam which will 

' Lady Eastlake's History of our Lord. Lond. 1865, if. 
p. 390. 

* Tertia Decisio, c. liv.; ed, Liebrecht, p. 25. 

380 The Legend of the Cross 

save me from death. You will easily find the wa] 
because my footprints scorched the soil as I lei 
Paradise. Follow my blackened traces, and the] 
will conduct you to the gate whence I was expelled.^ 
Seth hastened to Paradise. The way was barrel 
vegetation was scanty and of sombre colours 
over all lay the black prints of his father's anc 
mother's feet. Presently the walls surrounding 
Paradise appeared. Around them nature revive( 
the earth was covered with verdure and dapplec 
with flowers. The air vibrated with exqiiisite* 
music. Seth was dazzled with the beauty whicl 
surrounded him, and he walked on forgetful of his 
mission. Suddenly there flashed before him 
wavering line of fire, upright, like a serpent 
light continuously quivering. It was the flaming 
sword in the hand of the Cherub who guarded th< 
gate. As Seth drew nigh, he saw that the angel's 
wings were expanded so as to block the door. 
He prostrated himself before the Cherub, unable 
to utter a word But the celestial being read in 
his soul, better than a mortal can read a book, the 
words which were there impressed, and he said, 
" The time of pardon is not yet come. Four thou- 
sand years must roll away ere the Redeemer shall 
open the gate to Adam, closed by his disobedience. 

The Legend of the Cross 381 

But as a token of future pardon, the wood whereon 
redemption shall be won shall grow from the tomb 
of thy father. Behold what he lost by his trans- 
gression !" 

At these words the angel swung open the great 
portal of gold and fire, and Seth looked in. 

He beheld a fountain, clear as crystal, sparkling 
like silver dust, playing in the midst of the garden, 
and gushing forth in four living streams. Before 
this mystic fountain grew a mighty tree, with a 
trunk of vast bulk, and thickly branched, but desti- 
tute of bark and foliage. Around the bole was 
wreathed a frightful serpent or caterpillar, which 
had scorched the bark and devoured the leaves. 
Beneath the tree was a precipice. Seth beheld the 
roots of the tree in Hell. There Cain was en- 
deavouring to grasp the roots, and clamber up them 
into Paradise ; but they laced themselves around the 
body and limbs of the fratricide, as the threads of a 
spider's web entangle a fly, and the fibres of the 
tree penetrated the body of Cain as though they 
were endued with life. 

Horror-struck at this appalling spectacle, Seth 
raised his eyes to the summit of the tree. Now 
all w^as changed. The tree had grown till its 
branches reached heaven. The boughs were co- 

383 The Legend of the Cross 

vered with leaves, flowers, and fruit. But the 
fruit was a little babe, a living sun, who seemed t< 
be listening to the songs of seven white doves 
who circled round his head. A woman, more_ 
lovely than the moon, bore the child in hei 

Then the Cherub shut the door, and said, " I give 
thee now three seeds taken from that tree. Whei 
Adam is dead, place these three seeds in thy father*^ 
mouth, and bury him." 

So Seth took the seeds and returned to hi* 
father. Adam was glad to hear what his son tok 
him, and he praised God. On the third day after 
the return of Seth he died. Then his son burie 
him in the skins of beasts which God had given hi 
for a covering, and his sepulchre was on Golgoth 
In course of time three trees grew from the seeds' 
brought from Paradise : one was a cedar, another a 
cypress, and the third a pine. They grew with pr 
digious force, thrusting their boughs to right an 
left. It was with one of these boughs that Moses 
performed his miracles in Egypt, brought water out 
of the rock, and healed those whom the serpents 
slew in the desert. 

After a while the three trees touched one another, 
then began to incorporate and confound their 



The Lege?id of the Cross 383 

several natures in a single trunk. It was beneath 
this tree that David sat when he bewailed his 

In the time of Solomon, this was the noblest 
of the trees of Lebanon ; it surpassed all in the 
forests of King Hiram, as a monarch surpasses 
those who crouch at his feet. Now, when the son 
of David erected his palace, he cut down this tree 
to convert it into the main pillar supporting his 
roof. But all in vain. The column refused to an- 
swer the purpose : it was at one time too long, at 
another too short. Surprised at this resistance, 
Solomon lowered the walls of his palace, to suit the 
beam, but at once it shot up and pierced the roof, 
like an arrow driven through a piece of canvas, 
or a bird recovering its liberty. Solomon, enraged, 
cast the tree over Cedron, that all might trample 
on it as they crossed the brook. 

There the Queen of Sheba found it, and she, 
recognizing its virtue, had it raised. Solomon 
then buried it. Some while after, the king dug the 
pool of Bethesda on the spot. This pond at once 
acquired miraculous properties, and healed the sick 
who flocked to it. The water owed its virtues to 
the beam which lay beneath it. 

When the time of the Crucifixion of Christ drew 

384 The Legend of the Cross 

nigh, this wood rose to the surface, and was brought 
out of the water. The executioners, when seeking 
a suitable beam to serve for the cross, found it, and 
of it made the instrument of the death of the 
Saviour. After the Crucifixion it was buried on) 
Calvary, but it was found by the Empress Helena,] 
mother of Constantine the Great, deep in the! 
ground with two others, May 3, 328 ; Christ's 
was distinguished from those of the thieves by a 
sick woman being cured by touching it. This same 
event is, however, ascribed by a Syriac MS. in the] 
British Museum, unquestionably of the 5th century, j 
to Protonice, wife of the Emperor Claudius. It wasj 
carried away by Chosroes, king of Persia, on the; 
plundering of Jerusalem ; but was recovered byi 
Heraclius,who defeated him in battle, Sept. 14, 615;, 
a day that has ever since been commemorated asj 
the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. 

Such is the Legend of the Cross, one of the 
wildest of mediaeval fancies. It is founded, though j 
unconsciously, on this truth, that the Cross was a 
sacred sign long before Christ died upon it. 

And how' account for this t 

For my own part, I see no difficulty in believing 
that it formed a portion of the primaeval religion, 
traces of which exist over the whole world, among 

The Legend of the Cross 385 

every people ; that trust in the Cross was a part of 
the ancient faith which taught men to believe in a 
Trinity, in a War in Heaven, a Paradise from which 
man fell, a Flood, and a Babel ; a faith which was 
deeply impressed with a conviction that a Virgin 
should conceive and bear a son, that the Dragon's 
liead should be bruised, and that through Shedding 
of blood should come Remission. The use of the 
cross, as a symbol of life and regeneration through 
water, is as widely spread over the world as the 
belief in the ark of Noah. May be, the shadow of 
the Cross was cast further back into the night of 
ages, and fell on a wider range of country, than 
we are aware of 

It is more than a coincidence that Osiris by the 
cross should give life eternal to the Spirits of the 
Just ; that with the cross Thorr should smite the 
head of the Great Serpent, and bring to life those 
who were slain ; that beneath the cross the Muysca 
mothers should lay their babes, trusting by that 
sign to secure them from the power of evil spirits ; 
that with that symbol to protect them, the ancient 
people of Northern Italy should lay them down in 
the dust '. 

' Appendix C. 

C C 


T T will be remembered that, on the giving of thj 
-^ law from Sinai, Moses was bidden erect 
God an altar : " Thou shalt not build it of he\ 
stone, for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou has 
polluted it " (Exod. xx. 25). And later : " There 
shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God, 
an altar of stones : thou shalt not lift up any iroi 
tool upon them" (Deut. xxvii. 6). Such an altc 
was raised by Joshua after the passage of Jordan. 
" An altar of whole stones, over which no man hatj 
lift up any iron " (Joshua viii. ^i). 

When King Solomon erected his glorious templ< 
" the house, when it was in building, was built 
stone made ready before it was brought thither: so 
that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool 
of iron, heard in the house while it was in building" 
(i Kings vi. 7). And the reason of the prohibition 

Schamir 387 

of iron in the construction of the altar is given in 
the Mischna — iron is used to shorten life, the altar 
to prolong it (Middoth 3, 4). Iron is the metal 
used in war ; with it, says Pliny, we do the best 
and worst acts : we plough fields, we build houses, 
we cleave rocks ; but with it, also, come strife, and 
bloodshed, and rapine. The altar was the symbol 
of peace made between God and man, and therefore 
the metal employed in war was forbidden to be used 
in its erection. The idea was extended by Solomon 
to the whole temple. It is not said that iron was 
not used in the preparation of the building stones, 
but that no tool was heard in the fitting together 
of the parts. 

That temple symbolized the Church triumphant 
in heaven when the stones, hewn afar off in the 
quarries of this world, are laid noiselessly in their 
proper place, so that the whole, "fitly framed 
together, groweth unto a holy temple in the 
Lord ;" an idea well expressed in the ancient 
hymn " Angulare fundamentum :" — 

" Many a blow and biting sculpture 
Polish'd well those stones elect, 
In their places well compacted 
By the heavenly Architect." 

Nothing in the sacred narrative implies any 
c c 2 



miraculous act having been accomplished in th| 
erecting a temple of stones hewn at a distanc( 
and in the account of the building of the tempi 
in the Book of Chronicles no reference is made 
che circumstance, which would have been the ca^ 
had any marvel attended it. 

The Septuagint renders the passage, 6 oIko'^ \l6oi 
cLKpoTOfjLOL^ apyol<; wKohofirjOr]. The word aKporofjLo^ 
is used by the LXX in three places, for Ii^"'p^n, 
which is rough, hard, unhewn stone. Where ^Hl 
says in Deuteronomy (viii. 15), "Who brought thee '■ 
forth water out of the rock of flint," the LXX u 
aKpoTOfjLo^. Where the Psalmist says, " Who turn 
the flint-stone into a springing well " (Ps. cxiv. 
and Job, " He putteth His hand upon the roc 
(xxviii. 9), they employ dKp6To/jLo<;. So, too, in t 
Book of Wisdom (xi. 4), " Water was given them o 
of the flinty rock," ck Trerpa? uKporofjuov, which 
paralleled by "the hard stone," Xt^o? aKXrjp^ 
And in Ecclesiasticus, Ezekias is said to ha 
" digged the hard rock with iron," copv^e o-lBtj^ 
cLfcpoTopuov (xlviii. 17). 

AlBo'^ aKp6TOfjbo<; is, therefore, not a hewn sto 
but one with natural angles, unhewn. Thus Suid 
uses the expression, o-Kkrjpa koI cltp^t^to^, and The 
dotion calls the sharp stone used by Zipporah 

Schamir 389 

circumcising her son, aKporoixo^. The dpyol^ of the 
LXX signifies also the rough natural condition of 
the stones. Thus Pausanias speaks of gold and 
silver in unfused, rough lumps as dpyvpo^ kol ')(pva6<i 
apy6<;. Apparently, then, the LXX, in saying that 
the temple was erected of aKporofj^ocf; apyoU, express 
their meaning that the stones were unhewn and in 
their natural condition, so that the skill of Solomon 
was exhibited in putting together stones which had 
never been subjected to the tool. This is also the 
opinion of Josephus, who says, " The whole edifice 
of the temple is, with great art, compacted of rough 
stones, e/c XlOcov aKpoTo/ncov, which have been fitted 
into one another quite harmoniously, without the 
work of hammer or any other builder's tool being 
observable, but the whole fits together without the 
use of these, and the fitting seems to be rather one 
of free will than of force through mechanical means." 
And therein lay the skill of the king, for the un- 
shapen blocks were pieced together as though they 
had been carefully wrought to their positions. And 
Procopius says that the temple was erected of 
unhewn stones, as it was forbidden of God to lift 
iron upon them, but that, nevertheless, they all 
fitted into one another. We see in these passages 
tokens of the marvellous having been supposed to 

390 Schamir 

attach to a work which was free from any miraculous 
interposition. But at this point fable did not stop. 
Upon the carrying away of the Jews to Babylon, 
they were brought into contact with a flood of 
Iranian as well as Chaldaean myths, and adopted 
them without hesitation. 

Around Solomon accumulated the fables whi< 
were related of Dschemschid and other Persii 
heroes, and were adopted by the Jews as legen^ 
of native production. It was not sufficient tl 
Solomon should have skilfully pieced together tl 
rough stones : he was supposed to have he^ 
them by supernatural means, without the tool 

As Solomon, thus ran the tale, was about 
build the temple without the use of iron, his wi{ 
men drew his attention to the stones of the hij 
priest's breastplate, which had been cut and polishc 
by something harder than themselves. This 
schamir, which was able to cut where iron wouj 
not bite. Thereupon Solomon summoned tl 
spirits to inform him of the whereabouts of this 
substance. They told him schamir was a worm 
of the size of a barley corn, but so powerful that 
the hardest flint could not resist him. The spirits 
advised Solomon to seek Asmodeus, king of the 

Schamir 391 

devils, who could give him further information. 
When Solomon inquired where Asmodeus was to 
be met with, they replied that, on a distant 
mountain, he had dug a huge cistern, out of 
which he daily drank. Solomon then sent Ben- 
aiah with a chain, on which was written the masfic 
word '* schem hammphorasch," a fleece of wool and 
a skin of wine. Benaiah, having arrived at the 
cistern of Asmodeus, undermined it, and let the 
water off by a little hole, which he then plugged 
up with the wool ; after which he filled the pit 
with wine. The evil spirit came, as was his 
wont, to the cistern, and scented the wine. Sus- 
pecting treachery, he refused to drink, and re- 
tired ; but at length, impelled by thirst, he 
drank, and, becoming intoxicated, was chained 
by Benaiah and carried away. Benaiah had no 
willing prisoner to conduct : Asmodeus plunged 
and kicked, upsetting trees and houses. In this 
manner he came near a hut in which lived a 
widow, and when she besought him not to injure 
her poor little cot, he turned aside, and, in so doing, 
broke his leg. " Rightly," said the devil, " is it 
written : 'a soft tongue breaketh the bone !'" (Prov. 
XXV. 15). And a diable boiteiix he has ever re- 
mained. When in the presence of Solomon, 



Asmodeus was constrained to behave with greatei 
decorum. Schamir, he told Solomon, was the pro-^ 
perty of the Prince of the Sea, and that prim 
entrusted none with the mysterious worm excej 
the moor-hen, which had taken an oath of fidelity 
to him. The moor-hen takes the schamir with h( 
to the tops of the mountains, splits them, and 
jects seeds, which grow and cover the naked rockj 
Wherefore the bird is called Naggar Tura, th^ 
mountain-carver. If Solomon desired to posse* 
himself of the worm, he must find the nest of the 
moor-hen, and cover it with a plate of glass, so that_ 
the mother bird could not get at her young withouj 
breaking the glass. She would seek schamir fc 
the purpose, and the worm must be obtained froi 

Accordingly, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, sought th^ 
nest of the bird, and laid over it a piece of glass 
When the moor-hen came, and could not reach h( 
young, she flew away and fetched schamir, an< 
placed it on the glass. Then Benaiah shouted] 
and so terrified the bird, that she dropped th< 
worm and flew away. Benaiah by this meai 
obtained possession of the coveted schamir, and 
bore it to Solomon. But the moor-hen was so 
distressed at having broken her oath to the Prince 


Schamir 893 

of the Sea that she slew herself \ According to 
another version, Solomon went to his fountain, 
where he found the daemon Sackar, whom he 
captured by a ruse, and chained down. Solo- 
mon pressed his ring to the chains, and Sackar 
uttered a cry so shrill that the earth quaked. 

Quoth Solomon, " Fear not ; I shall restore you 
to liberty if you will tell me how to burrow noise- 
lessly after minerals and metals." 

" I know not how to do so," answered the Jin ; 
" but the raven can tell you : place over her eggs 
a sheet of crystal, and you shall see how the 
mother will break it." 

Solomon did so, and the mother brought a stone 
and shattered the crystal. " Whence got you that 
stone .''" asked Solomon. 

" It is the stone Samur," answered the raven ; 
"it comes from a desert in the uttermost east" 
So the monarch sent some giants to follow the 
raven, and bring him a suitable number of stones^" 

According to a third version, the bird is an eagle, 
and schamir is the Stone of Wisdom. 

^ Gittin, Ixviii. Eisenmenger : Neu-entdecktes Judenthum. 
Konigsberg, 171 1, i. p. 351. 

- Collin de Plancy : Legendes de I'Ancien Test. Paris, 
1S61, p. 280 

394) Schamir 

Possessed of this schamir, Solomon wrought the 
stones for his temple. 

Rabbinical fantasy has developed other myths 
concerning this mysterious force, resident in worm 
or stone. On the second day of Creation were 
created the well by which Jacob met Rebecca, the 
manna which fed the Israelites, the wonder-working 
rod of Moses, the ass which spake to Balaam, and 
schamir, the means whereby without iron tool 
Solomon was to build the House of God. Scha- 
mir is not in early rabbinical fable a worm ; the 
treatise Sota gives the first indication of its being 
regarded as something more than a stone, by 
terming it a "creature," Nnnn. "Our Rabbis 
have taught us that schamir is a creature as big 
as a barley-corn, created in the hexameron, and 
that nothing can resist it. How is it preserved } 
It is wrapped in a wisp of wool, and kept in a 
leaden box full of small grains like barley-meal ^" 
After the building of the temple schamir vanished. 

The story passed to the Greeks. ^Elian relates of 
the hTO'>if or hoopoe, that a bird had once a nest in 
an old wall, in which there was a rent. The pro- 
prietor plastered over this crack. The hoopoe find- 

3 Sota, xlviii. 8. 

Schaniir 895 

ing that she could not get to her young, flew away 
in quest of a plant Troa, which she brought, and 
applied to the plaster, which at once gave way, 
and admitted her to her young. Then she went 
forth to seek food, and the man again stopped up 
the hole, but once more the hoopoe removed the 
obstacle by the same means. And this took place 
a third time again*. What ^lian relates of the 
hoopoe, Pliny tells of the woodpecker. This bird, 
he says, brings up its young in holes ; and if the 
entrance to them be plugged up never so tight, the 
bird is able to make the plug burst out. 

In the English Gesta Romanorum is the follow- 
ing story. There lived in Rome a noble emperor, 
Diocletian by name, who loved the virtue of com- 
passion above every thing. Therefore he desired 
to know which of all the birds was most kindly 
affectioned towards its young. One day, the 
Emperor was wandering in the forest, when he lit 
upon the nest of a great bird called ostrich, in 
which was the mother with her young. The king 
took the nest along with the poults to his palace, 
and put it into a glass vessel. This the mother- 
bird saw, and, unable to reach her little ones, she 

^ ^lian, Hist. Animal, iii. 26. 

396 Schamir 

returned into the wood, and after an absence of 
three days came back with a worm in her beak, 
called thumare. This she dropped on the glass, 
and by the power of the worm, the glass was shi- 
vered, and the young flew away after their mother. 
When the Emperor saw this, he highly commended 
both the affection and the sagacity of the ostrich. 
On which we may remark, that a portion of that 
sagacity was wanting to those who applied the 
myth to that bird which of all others is singularly 
deficient in the qualities with which Diocletian cre- 
dited it. Similar stories are told by Vincent of 
Beauvais in his " Historical Mirror^," and by gossip- 
ing, fable-loving, and delightful Gervase of Tilbury ^ 
The latter says that Solomon cut the stones of 
the temple with the blood of a little worm called 
thamir, which when sprinkled on the marble, made 
it easy to split. And the way in which Solomon 
obtained the worm was this. He had an ostrich, 
whose chick he put in a glass bottle. Seeing this, 
the ostrich ran to the desert, and brought the worm, 
and with its blood fractured the vessel. " And in 
our time, in the reign of Pope Alexander HI., 

* Vincent Bellov., Spec. Nat. 20, 170. 
^ Gervasii Tilberiensis Otia Imp., ed. Liebrecht. Hanov. 
1856, p. 48. 

Schamir 397 

when I was a boy, there was found at Rome, a 
vial full of milky liquid, which, when sprinkled on 
any kinds of stone, made them receive such sculp- 
ture as the hand of the graver was wont to execute. 
It was a vial discovered in a most ancient palace, 
the matter and art of which was a subject of 
wonder to the Roman people." 

Gervase drew from Comestor (Regum lib. iii. 


"If you wish to burst chains," says Albertus 
Magnus '', " go into the wood, and look for a wood- 
pecker's nest, where there are young ; climb the 
tree, and choke the mouth of the nest with any thing 
you like. As soon as she sees you do this, she flies 
off for a plant, which she lays on the stoppage ; this 
bursts, and the plant falls to the ground under the 
tree, where you must have a cloth spread for re- 
ceiving it" But then, says Albertus, this is a fancy 
of the Jews ^. 

Conrad von Megenburg relates : " There is a bird 
which in Latin is called merops, but which we in 
German term Bomheckel (i.e. Baumhacker), which 
nests in high trees, and when one covers its children 
with something to impede the approach of the bird, 

' De Mirab. Mundi. Argent. 1601, p. 225. 
8 De Animalibus. Mantua, 1479, ult. pag. 

S9S Schainir ^^^^^^H 

it brings a herb, and holds it over the obstacle, and 
it gives way. The plant is called herba meropis, or 
woodpecker-plant, and is called in magical books 
chora ^" 

In Normandy, the swallow knows how to find 
upon the sea-beach a pebble which has the mar- 
vellous power of restoring sight to the blind. The 
peasants tell of a certain way of obtaining posses- 
sion of this stone. You must put out the eyes of a 
swallow's young, whereupon the mother-bird will 
immediately go in quest of the stone. When she 
has found it and applied it, she will endeavour to 
make away with the talisman, that none may dis- 
cover it. But if one has taken the precaution to 
spread a piece of scarlet cloth below the nest, the 
swallow, mistaking it for fire, will drop the stone 
upon it. 

I met with the story in Iceland. There the 
natives tell that there is a stone of such wondrous 
power, that the possessor can walk invisible, can, at 
a wish, provide himself with as much stock-fish and 
corn-brandy as he may desire, can raise the dead, 
cure disease, and break bolts and bars. In order to 
obtain this prize, one must hard-boil an Qgg from 

' Apud Mone, Anzeiger, viii. p. 614. 


Schamir 399 

the raven's nest, then replace it, and secrete oneself 
till the mother-bird, finding one of her eggs resist 
all her endeavours to infuse warmth into it, flies off 
and brings a black pebble in her beak, with which 
she touches the boiled ^g^y and restores it to its 
former condition. At this moment she must be 
shot, and the stone be secured. 

In this form of the superstition schamir has the 
power of giving life. This probably connects it 
with those stories, so rife in the middle ages, of birds 
or weasels, which were able to restore the dead to 
life by means of a mysterious plant. Avicenna 
relates in his eighth book, "Of Animals," that it 
was related to him by a faithful old man, that he 
had seen two little birds squabbling, and that one 
was overcome ; it therefore retired and ate of a 
certain herb, then it returned to the onslaught ; 
which when the old man observed frequently, he 
took away the herb, and when the bird came and 
found the plant gone, it set up a great cry and 
died. And this plant was lactiia agrestis. 

In Fouque's " Sir EHdoc," a little boy Amyot is 
watching by a dead lady laid out in the church, 
when " suddenly I heard a loud cry from the child. 
I looked up, a little creature glided by me ; the 
shepherd's staff of the bov flew after it ; the creature 

400 Schamir 

lay dead, stretched on the ground by the blow. It 
was a weasel. . . . Presently there came 
second weasel, as if to seek his comrade, and whei 
he found him dead, a mournful scene began ; he 
touched him as if to say, 'Wake up, wake up, 
let us play together !' And when the other little 
animal lay dead and motionless, the living one 
sprang back from him in terror, and then repeated 
the attempt again and again, many times. Itj 
bright little eyes shone sadly, as if they were full of 
tears. The sorrowful creature seemed as though it, 
suddenly bethought itself of something. It erecte 
its ears, it looked round with its bright eyes, an 
then swiftly darted away. And before Amyot and 
I could ask each other of the strange sight, the little 
animal returned again, bearing in its mouth a root, 
a root to which grew a red flower ; I had never 
before seen such a flower blowing ; I made a sign 
to Amyot, and we both remained motionless. The 
weasel came up quickly, and laid the root and the 
flower gently on its companion's mouth ; the crea- 
ture, but now stiff" in death, stretched itself, and 
suddenly sprang up, with the root still in its mouth. 
I called to Amyot, * The root ! take it, take it, but 
do not kill !' Again he flung his staff, but so dexter- 
ously that he killed neither of the weasels, nor even 





Schamir 401 

hurt them. The root of life and the red blossoms 
lay on the ground before me, and in my power." 
With this, naturally enough, the lady who is speak- 
ing restores the corpse to life. Sir Elidoc is founded 
on a Breton legend, the Lai d'Eliduc of Marie de 
France ; but another tale from the same country 
makes the flower yellow ; it is a marigold, which, 
when touched on a certain morning by the bare foot 
of one who has a pure heart, gives the power to un- 
derstand the language of birds \ This is the same 
story as that of Polyidus and Glaucus. Polyidus 
observed a serpent stealing towards the corpse of 
the young prince. He slew it ; then came another 
serpent, and finding its companion dead, it fetched 
a root by which it restored life to the dead serpent. 
Polyidus obtained possession of the plant, and 
therewith revived Glaucus ^ In the Greek romance 
of Rhodante and Dosicles is an incident of similar 
character. Rhodante swallows a poisoned goblet 
of wine, and lies as one dead, deprived of sense 
and motion. In the meanwhile, Dosicles and 
Cratander are chasing wild beasts in the forest. 
There they find a wounded bear, which seeks a 
certain plant, and, rolling upon it, recovers health 

* Bode, Volksmahrchen a. d. Bretagne. Leipz, 1847, P- ^• 
' Apollodorus, ii. 3. 

D d 

402 Sckamir ^^^^^^H 

and vigour instantaneously. The root of this herl 
was white, its flowers of a rosy hue, attached to i 
stalk of purplish tinge. Dosicles picked the herU 
and with it returned to the house where he founJ 
Rhodante apparently dead ; with the wondrou 
plant he, however, was able to restore her. Th 
same story is told in Germany, in Lithuania, amon 
the modern Greeks and ancient Scandinavians. 

Germany teems with stories of the marvellou 
properties of the Luckflower. 

A man chances to pluck a beautiful flower, whid 
in most instances is blue, and this he puts in hi 
breast, or in his hat. Passing along a mountal 
side, he sees the rocks gape before him, and ente^H 
ing, he sees a beautiful lady, who bids him help hirr^H 
self freely to the gold which is scattered on all sid^^H 
in profusion. He crams the glittering nuggets intl^H 
his pockets, and is about to leave, when she cal^H 
after him, " Forget not the best ! " Thinking tha^H 
she means him to take more, he feels his cramme^^ 
pockets, and finding that he has nothing to reproac^^ 
himself with in that respect, he seeks the light (1^| 
day, entirely forgetting the precious blue flower 
which had opened to him the rocks, and which hj 
dropped on the ground. 

As he hurries through the doorway, the rocks 

Schamir 403 

close upon him with a thunder-crash and cut off 
his heel. The mountain-side is thenceforth closed 
to him for ever. 

Once upon a time a shepherd was driving his 
flock over the Ilsenstein, when, wearied with his 
tramp, he leaned upon his staff. Instantly the 
mountain opened, for in that staff was the " Spring- 
wort." Within he saw the Princess Use, who bade 
him fill his pockets with gold. The shepherd 
obeyed, and was going away, when the princess 
exclaimed, "Forget not the best!" alluding to 
his staff, which lay against the wall. But he, 
misunderstanding her, took more gold, and the 
mountain clashing together, severed him in twain. 
In some versions of the story, it is the pale blue 
flower — 

" The blue flower, which — Bramins say — 
Blooms nowhere but in Paradise" — 

[Lalla Rookh) 

which exclaims in feeble, piteous tone, " Forget- 
me-not !" but it5 little cry is unheeded. 

Thus originated the name of the beautiful little 
flower. When this story was forgotten, a romantic 
fable was invented to account for the peculiar 

In the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, 
D d a 

404 Schamtr 

it is a word, "sesame," which makes the rocks 
part, and gives admission to the treasures within ; 
and it is obHvion of the magic word which brings 
destruction upon the luckless wretch within. But 
sesame is the name of a well-known eastei 
plant, sesaimim orientale ; so that probably in thi 
original form of the Persian tale absorbed into th^ 
Arabian Nights, a flower was employed to giv^ 
admission to the mountain. But classic antiquity 
has also its rock-breaking plant, the saxifragd 
whose tender rootlets penetrate and dissolve th^ 
hardest stones with a force for which the Ancient 
were unable to account. 

Isaiah, describing the desolation of the vineyan 
of Zion, says that " There shall come up briai 
and thorns " (v. 6), n'H* r\'U)b\ "I'Dt:'^ (vii. 23 : ci 
also ix. 17 ; x. 17). And, ** Upon the land of my^ 
people shall come up thorns and briars" (xxxii^^ 
13), where n'Di:^ is combined with pp, Thd^f 
word n'ii' never stands alone, but is always 
joined with TD'ii;, which the LXX render aKavOa 
KoX x^p'^of; ; the word in the fifth chapter they 
render x^P^^'^ aKavOai ; that in the seventh, x^P^^^ 
and uKavOa ; so that x^P^^'^ ^^ P"^ ^^^ TD'i:^, and 
uKavOa for D'W. The word in the ninth chapter 
is dyp(0(TTL<; ^vpa, that in the tenth, wa-el xoprov rr]v 

Scliarnir 405 

vK'r]v. Upon both names the translators are not 
agreed. Now, this word " smiris " is used by Isaiah 
alone as the name of a plant. The smiris, as we 
have seen, is a stone-breaking substance, and the 
same idea which is rendered in Latin by saxifraga is 
given in the Hebrew word used by Isaiah, so that 
we may take T\'W^ n'Di:^ to mean saxifraga and 
thorn ^. In the North, we have another object, to 
which are attributed the same properties as to the 
*' Springwort " and schamir, and that is the Hand of 
Glory. This is the hand of a man who has been 
hung, and it is prepared in the following manner : 
wrap the hand in a piece of winding-sheet, drawing 
it tight, so as to squeeze out the little blood which 
may remain ; then place it in an earthenware 
vessel with saltpetre, salt, and long pepper, all 
carefully and thoroughly powdered. Let it remain 
a fortnight in this pickle till it is well dried, then 
expose it to the sun in the dog-days, till it is com- 
pletely parched, or, if the sun be not powerful 
enough, dry it in an oven heated with vervain and 

^ Cassel, Ueber Schamir, in Denkschrift d. Konigl. Akad. 
der Wissenschaften. Erfurt, 1856, p. 76. The Oriental word 
" smiris " passed into use among the Greeks as the name of 
the hardest substance known, used in poUshing stones, and 
is retained in the German " Smirgel," and the English 
" emer>'." 



fern. Next make a candle with the fat of a 

man, virgin-wax, and Lapland sesame. Observe^ 

the use of this herb : the hand of glory is used^ 

to hold this candle when it is lighted*. Doust 

Swivel, in the "Antiquary," adds, " You do make 

candle, and put into de hand of glory at de prop^ 

hour and minute, with de proper ceremonisth ; an 

he who seeksh for treasuresh shall find none at 

all !" Southey places it in the hands of the en^ 

chanter Mohareb, when he would lull to slee 

Yohak, the giant guardian of the caves of Babylo 


" From his wallet drew a human hand, 
Shriveird, and dry, and black ; 
And fitting, as he spake, 
A taper in his hold. 
Pursued : * A murderer on the stake had died 
I drove the vulture from his limbs, and lopt 
The hand that did the murder, and drew up 
The tendon strings to close its grasp ; 

And in the sun and wind 
Parch'd it, nine weeks exposed. 
The taper . . . But not here the place to impart, 
Nor hast thou undergone the rites 
That fit thee to partake the mystery. 
Look ! it burns clear, but with the air around. 
Its dead ingredients mingle deathhness *.' " 

Several stories of this terrible hand are related in 


* Collin de Plancy, Dictionnaire Infernal 

• Thalaba the Destroyer, book v. 

Paris, 1818. 

Schamir 407 

Henderson's " Folklore of the Northern Counties of 
England." I will only quote one, which was told me 
by a labouring man in the West Riding of York- 
shire, and which is the same story as that given by 
Martin Anthony Delrio in his "Disquisitiones Ma- 
gicse," in 1593, and which is printed in the Appendix 
to that book of M. Henderson. 

One dark night, after the house had been closed, 
there came a tap at the door of a lone inn, in the 
midst of a barren moor. 

The door was opened, and there stood without, 
shivering and shaking, a poor beggar, his rags 
soaked with rain, and his hands white with cold. 
He asked piteously for a lodging, and it was cheer- 
fully granted him ; though there was not a spare bed 
in the house, he might lie along on the mat before 
the kitchen fire, and welcome. 

All in the house went to bed except the servant 
lassie, who from the kitchen could see into the 
large room through a small pane of glass let 
into the door. When every one save the beggar 
was out of the room, she observed the man 
draw himself up from the floor, seat himself at 
the table, extract a brown withered human hand 
from his pocket, and set it upright in the candle- 
stick ; he then anointed the fingers, and, apply- 

408 Schamir 

ing a match to them, they began to 
Filled with horror, the girl rushed up the 
stairs, and endeavoured to arouse her master an^ 
the men of the house ; but all in vain, they slej 
a charmed sleep ; and finding all her efforts 
effectual, she hastened downstairs again. Lool 
ing again through the small window, she ol 
served the fingers of the hand flaming, but 
thumb gave no light : this was because one 
the inmates of the house was not asleep. Tl 
beggar began collecting all the valuables of thi 
house into a large sack — no lock withstood th( 
application of the flaming hand. Then, putting 
it down, the man entered an adjoining apartment. 
The moment he was gone, the girl rushed in, 
and seizing the hand, attempted to extinguish 
the quivering yellow flames, which wavered at 
the fingers' ends. She blew at them in vain ; she 
poured some drops from a beer-jug over them, 
but that only made the fingers burn the brighter ; 
she cast some water upon them, but still without 
extinguishing the light. As a last resource, she 
caught up a jug of milk, and dashing it over 
the four lambent flames, they went out imme- 

Uttering a piercing cry, she rushed to the door 

Schamir 409 

of the room the beggar had entered, and locked 
it. The whole house was aroused, and the thief 
was secured and hung. 

We must not forget Tom Ingoldsby's render- 
ing of a similar legend : — 

" Open, lock, 

To the Dead Man's knock ! 

Fly, bolt, and bar, and band ! 

Nor move, nor swerve, 

Joint, muscle, or nerve. 
At the spell of the Dead Man's hand ! 
Sleep, all who sleep ! — Wake, all who wake ! 
But be as the dead for the Dead Man's sake ! 

" Now lock, nor bolt, nor bar avails. 
Nor stout oak panel thick-studded with nails. 
Heavy and harsh the hinges creak, 
Though they had been oil'd in the course of the week. 
The door opens wide as wide may be, 
And there they stand. 
That murderous band, 
Lit by the light of the Glorious Hand, 
By one ! — ^by two ! — by three ! " 

But, instead of pursuing the fable through 
its further ramifications, let us apply the scha- 
mir of comparative mythology to the myth itself, 
and see whether before it the bolts do not 
give way, and the great doors of the cavern of 
mysteries expand, and discover to us the ori- 
gin of the superstitious belief in this sea-prince's 

410 Schamir 

worm, the stone of wisdom, sesame, forget-me- 
not, or the hand of glory. 

What are its effects ? 

It bursts locks, and shatters stones, it opens, 
in the mountains the hidden treasures hitherto 
concealed from men, or it paralyzes, lulling into] 
a magic sleep, or, again, it restores to life. 

I believe the varied fables relate to one and 
the same object — and that, the lightning. 

But what is the bird which bears schamir, the 
worm or stone which shatters rocks ? It is the 
storm-cloud, which in many a mythology of an- 
cient days was supposed to be a mighty bird. 
In Greek iconography, Zeus, "the aether in his 
moist arms embracing the earth," as Euripides 
describes him, is armed with the thunderbolt, 
and accompanied by the eagle, a symbol of the 

" The refulgent heaven above, 
Which all men call, unanimously, Jove "," 

has for its essential attributes the cloud and its 
bolt, and when the aether was represented under 
human form, the cloud was given shape as a 
bird. It is the same storm-cloud which as " blood- 

® Cicero, De N. Deorum xvi. 

Schamir 411 

thirsting eagle" banquets its "full on the black 
viands of the liver" of Prometheus. The same 
cloud in its fury is symbolized by the Phorcidae 
with their flashing eye and lightning tooth — 

Trpos Topyoveia Tredia Kiadrjvrjs, Iva 
al ^opKides vaiovat drjvaial Kopai 
rpels KVKvopopcfiot, kolvov o/x/a' eKTrjp,ePai, 
fiov68ovTes, as ov6^ ijXtos TrpocrbepKerat 

dKTl(TlVf Ovd* Tj VVKTepOS p-TjVT) TTOTe. 

(^SCH. Prom.), 

and also by the ravening harpies. In ancient 
Indian mythology, the delicate white cirrus cloud 
drifting overhead was a fleeting swan, and so it 
was as well in the creed of the Scandinavian, 
whilst the black clouds were ravens coursing 
over the earth, and returning to whisper the news 
in the ear of listening Odin. The rushing vapour 
is the roc of the Arabian Nights, which broods 
over its great luminous egg, the sun, and which 
haunts the sparkling valley of diamonds, the 
starry sky. The resemblance traced between 
bird and cloud is not far fetched : it recurs to the 
modern poet as it did to the Psalmist, when he 
spoke of the "wings of the wind." If the cloud 
was supposed to be a great bird, the lightnings 
were regarded as writhing worms or serpents 
in its beak. These fiery serpents, kXiKiai ypa/jb/jLO' 

412 Schamir 

€iZm (pepofievoi,, are believed in to this day b] 
the Canadian Indians, who call the thunder thei 
hissing. It was these heavenly reptiles which 
were supposed by the Druids to generate the sun, 
the famous anguineum so coveted and so ill compre- 
hended. The thunderbolt shattering all it struck, 
was regarded as the stone dropped by the cloud- 
bird. A more forced resemblance is that supposed 
to exist between the lightning and a heavenly 
flower, blue, or yellow, or red, and yet there is evi- 
dence, upon which I cannot enter here, that so it 
was regarded. 

The lightning-flashing cloud was also supposed 
to be a flaming hand. The Greek placed the 
forked dart in the hand of Zeus — 

" rubente 
Dextera sacras jaculatus arces ;'* 

and the ancient Mexican symbolized the sacrificial 
fire by a blood-red hand impressed on his sanctu- 
ary walls. The idea may have been present in the 
mind of the servant of Elijah when he told his 
master that he saw from the top of Carmel rising 
" A little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. 
And it came to pass, that the heaven was black 
with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain" 
(i Kings xviii. 44). In Finnish and Esthonian 


Schamir 41 3 

mythology, the cloud is a little man with a copper 
hand, who, rising from the water, becomes a giant. 

The black cloud with the lambent flames issuing 
from it was the original of the magical hand of 

The effects produced by the lightning are differ- 
ently expressed. As shattering the rocks, scha- 
mir is easily intelligible. It is less so as giving 
access to the hidden treasures of the mountains. 
The ancient Aryan had the same name for cloud 
and mountain. To him the piles of vapour on the 
horizon were so like Alpine ranges, that he had but 
one word whereby to designate both. These great 
mountains of heaven were opened by the lightning. 
In the sudden flash he beheld the dazzling splen- 
dour within, but only for a moment, and then, with 
a crash, the celestial rocks closed again. Believing 
these vaporous piles to contain resplendent trea- 
sures of which partial glimpse was obtained by 
mortals in a momentary gleam, tales were speedily 
formed, relating the adventures of some who had 
succeeded in entering these treasure-mountains. 
The plant of life, brought by weasel or serpent, 
restores life to one who was dead. This myth was 
forged in Eastern lands, where the earth apparently 
dies from a protracted drought. Then comes the 


cloud. The lightning flash reaches the barren, 
dead, and thirsty land ; forth gush the waters ofj 
heaven, and the parched vegetation bursts onc< 
more into the vigour of life, restored after sus-< 
pended animation. It is the dead and parchec 
vegetation which is symbolized by Glaucus, an( 
the earth still and without the energy of life 
which is represented by the lady in the Lai 
d'Eliduc. This reviving power is attributed in 
mythology to the rain as well. In Sclavonic 
myths, it is the water of life which restores the 
dead earth, a water brought by a bird from the 
depths of a gloomy cave. A prince has been 
murdered, — that is, the earth is dead ; then comes 
the eagle bearing a vial of the reviving water — 
the cloud with the rain ; it sprinkles the corpse 
with the precious drops, and life returns '. 

But the hand of glory has a very different 
property — it paralyzes. In this it resembles the 
Gorgon's head or the basilisk. The head of 
Medusa, with its flying serpent locks, is unques- 
tionably the storm-cloud ; and the basilisk 
which strikes dead with its eye is certainly th( 

^ Compare with this the Psyche in "The Golden Ass,'' 
and the Fair One with the Golden Locks of the Countess 

Schainir 415 

same. The terror inspired by the outburst of 
the thunder-storm is expressed in fable by the 
paralyzing effect of the eye of the cockatrice, the 
exhibition of the Gorgon's countenance, and the 
waving of the glorious hand. 

Strained as some of these explanations may 
seem, they are nevertheless true. We, with our 
knowledge of the causes producing meteorological 
phenomena, are hardly able to realize the extrava- 
gance of the theories propounded by the ignorant 
to account for them. 

How Finn cosmogonists could have believed 
the earth and heaven to be made out of a 
severed ^g^, the upper concave shell representing 
heaven, the yolk being earth, and the crystal 
surrounding fluid the circumambient ocean, is 
to us incomprehensible : and yet it remains a 
fact that so they did regard them. How the 
Scandinavians could have supposed the moun- 
tains to be the mouldering bones of a mighty 
Jotun, and the earth to be his festering flesh, we 
cannot conceive : yet such a theory was solemnly 
taught and accepted. How the ancient Indians 
could regard the rain-clouds as cows with full 
udders, milked by the winds of heaven, is beyond 
our comprehension, and yet their Veda contains 

416 Schamir 

indisputable testimony to the fact that so they 
were regarded. 

Nonnus Dionysius (v. ^f^o, et seq.) spoke of 
the moon as a luminous white stone, and De- 
mocritus regarded the stars as TreVpou?. Lucre- 
tius considered the sun as a wheel (v. 433), and 
Ovid as a shield — 

" Ipse Dei clypeus, terra cum tollitur ima, 
Mane rubet : terraque rubet, cum conditur ima. 
Candidus in summo . . . ." — {Meta7n. xv, 192 sq.) 

As late as 1600, a German writer would illus- 
trate a thunder-storm destroying a crop of corn 
by a picture of a dragon devouring the produce of 
the field with his flaming tongue and iron teeth 
(Wolfii Memorabil. ii. p. 505) ; and at the present 
day children are taught that the thunder-crash is 
the voice of the Almighty. 

The restless mind of man, ever seeking a reason 
to account for the marvels presented to his senses, 
adopts one theory after another, and the rejected 
explanations encumber the memory of nations 
as myths, the significance of which has been 

CJe ^iper of Jgameln 

HAMELN town was infested with rats, in the 
year 1284. In their houses the people had 
no peace from them ; rats disturbed them by night 
and worried them by day — 

" They fought the dogs, and kill'd the cats, 

And bit the babies in the cradles, 
And ate the cheeses out of the vats, 

And hck'd the soup from the cook's own ladles, 
SpUt open the kegs of salted sprats, 
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, 
And even spoil'd the women's chats. 

By drowning their speaking 

With shrieking and squeaking 
In fifty different sharps and flats." 

One day, there came a man into the town, most 
quaintly attired in parti-coloured suit. Bunting 
the man was called, after his dress. None knew 
whence he came, or who he was. He announced 
himself to be a rat-catchy, and offered for a certain 

E e 

418 The Piper of Hanieln 

sum of money to rid the place of the vermin. Th 
townsmen agreed to his proposal, and promised 
him the sum demanded. Thereupon the man 
drew forth a pipe and piped. 

" And ere three shrill notes the pipe utter'd, 
You heard as if an army mutter'd ; 
And the muttering grew to a grumbling, 
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling : 
And out of the town the rats came tumbling. 
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats, 
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats, 
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers, 

Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, 
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers ; 

Families by tens and dozens, 
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, 
FoUow'd the Piper for their lives. 
From street to street he piped advancing, 
Until they came to the river Weser, 
Wherein all plunged and perish'd." 

No sooner were the townsfolk released from their 
torment, than they repented of their bargain, and, 
on the plea that the rat-destroyer was a sorcerer, 
they refused to pay the stipulated remuneration. 
At this the piper waxed wrath, and vowed ven- 
geance. On the 26th June, the feast of SS. John 
and Paul, the mysterious Piper reappeared in 
Hameln town — 

" Once more he stept into the street, 
And to his lips again 


The Piper of Hameln 41 9 

Laid his long pipe of smooth, straight cane ; 
And, ere he blew three notes (such sweet, 
Soft notes as yet musician's cunning 
Never gave to the enraptured air), 
There was a rusthng, that seem'd like a bustling 
Of merry crowds justling, at pitching and hustling, 
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering. 
Little hands clapping, and little tongues chattering : 
And, like fowls in a farmyard where barley is scattering, 
Out came the children running. 
All the little boys and girls. 
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls. 
And sparkling eyes, and teeth like pearls, 
Trippmg, skipping, ran merrily after 
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter." 

The Piper led the way down the street, the chil- 
dren all following-, whilst the Hameln people stood 
aghast, not knowing what step to take, or what 
would be the result of this weird piping. He led 
them from the town towards a hill rising above the 
Weser — 

" When, lo ! as they reach'd the mountain's side, 
A wondrous portal open'd wide, 
As if a cavern were suddenly hollow'd ; 
And the piper advanced, and the children follow'd ; 
And when all were in, to the very last. 
The door in the mountain side shut fast." 

No ! not all. Two remained : the one blind, and 

the other dumb. The dumb child pointed out the 

spot where the children had vanished, and the blind 

E e 2 


The Piper of Hameln 

boy related his sensations when he heard the pip( 
play. In other accounts, the lad was lame, and h< 
alone was left ; and in after years he was sad. And 
thus he accounted for his settled melancholy — 

" It's dull in our town since my playmates left ; 
I can't forget that I'm bereft 
Of all the pleasant sights they see, 
Which the piper also promised me ; 
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land, 
Joining the tOAvn, and just at hand. 
Where waters gush'd, and fruit-trees grew, 
And flowers put forth a fairer hue. 
And every thing was strange and new ; 
And sparrows were brighter than peacocks here 
And their dogs outran our fallow deer, 
And honey bees had lost their stings. 
And horses were born with eagle's wings ; 
And just as I became assured 
My lame foot would be speedily cured, 
The music stopp'd, and I stood still. 
And found m.yself outside the hill. 
Left alone against my will. 
To go now limping as before. 
And never hear of that country more." 

The number of children that perished was oi 
hundred and thirty. Fathers and mothers rushe< 
to the east gate, but when they came to the moun^ 
tain, called Koppenberg, into which the train hac 
disappeared, nothing was observable except a smal 
hollow, where the sorcerer and their little ones ha< 

The Piper of Hainehi 42 1 

The street through which the piper went is called 
the Bungen-Strasse, because no music, no drum 
(Bunge), may be played in it. If a bridal pro- 
cession passes through it, the music must cease 
until it is out of it. It is not long since two moss- 
grown crosses on the Koppenberg marked the spot 
where the little ones vanished. On the wall of a 
house in the town is written, in gold characters — 

"Anno 1284 am dage Johannis et Pauli war der 26. Junii 
dorch einen piper mit allerlei farve bekledet gewesen 130 
kinder verledet binnen Hameln gebon to Calvarie, hi den 
Koppen verloren." 

On the Rathhaus was sculptured, in memory of 

the event — 

" Im Jahr 1284 na Christi gebert 
Tho Hamel worden uthgevert 
hundert und dreiszig kinder dasiilvest gebom 
durch einen Piper under den Koppen verlorn." 

And on the new gate — 

" Centum ter denos cum magus ab urbe puellos 
Duxerat ante annos CCLXXII condita porta fuit." 

For long, so profound was the impression pro- 
duced by the event, the town dated its public 
documents from this calamity \ 

* Thorpe, Northern Mythology, iii. 119 ; and Grimm, 
Deutsche Sagen, Berhn, 1866, i. p. 245. Grimm has col- 
lected a list of authorities who speak of the event as an his- 
torical fact. 

422 The Piper of Hameln 

Similar stories are told of other places. A man 
with a violin came once to Brandenburg, and walked 
through the town fiddling. All the children fol- 
lowed him : he led them to the Marienberg, which 
opened and admitted him and the little ones, and, 
closing upon them, left none behind. At one time, 
the fields about Lorch were devastated with ants. 
The Bishop of Worms instituted a procession and 
litanies to obtain the deliverance of his people from 
the plague. As the procession approached the 
Lake of Lorch, a hermit came to meet it, and 
offered to rid the neighbourhood of the ants, if the 
farmers would erect a chapel on the site, at the cost 
of a hundred gulden. When they consented, he 
drew forth a pipe and piped so sweetly that all the 
insects came about him ; and he led them to the 
water, into which he plunged with them. Then he 
asked for the money, but it was refused. Where- 
upon he piped again, and all the pigs followed him : 
he led them into the lake, and vanished with them. 

Next year a swarm of crickets ate up the herbage ; 
the people were in despair. Again they went in 
procession, and were met by a charcoal-burner, 
who promised to destroy the insects, if the people 
would expend five hundred gulden on a chapel. 
Then he piped, and the crickets followed him into 


The Piper of Hanieln 423 

the water. Again the people refused to pay the 
stipulated sum, thereupon the charcoal-burner piped 
all their sheep into the lake. The third year comes 
a plague of rats. A little old man of the mountain 
this time offers to free the land of the vermin for a 
thousand gulden. He pipes them into the Tannen- 
berg ; then the farmers again button up their 
pockets, whereupon the little man pipes all their 
children away ^. 

In the Hartz mountains once passed a strange 
musician with a bagpipe. Each time that he 
played a tune a maiden died. In this manner he 
caused the death of fifty girls, and then he vanished 
with their souls '. 

It is singular that a similar story should exist in 
Abyssinia. It is related by Harrison, in his " High- 
lands of -Ethiopia," that the Hadjiuji Madjuji are 
daemon pipers, who, riding on a goat, traverse a 
hamlet, and, by their music, irresistibly draw the 
children after them to destruction. 

The soul, in German mythology, is supposed to 
bear some analogy to a mouse. In Thuringia, at 
Saalfeld, a servant-girl fell asleep whilst her com- 

'^ Wolf, Beitrage zur Deutschen Mythologie. Gottingen, 
1852,1. 17T. 
^ Frohle, Mahrchen, No. 14. 

424 The Piper of Hameln 

panions were shelling nuts. They observed a little 
red mouse creep from her mouth and run out of the 
window. One of the fellows present shook th 
sleeper, but could not wake her, so he moved he 
to another place. Presently the mouse ran bac 
to the former place, and dashed about seeking th 
girl : not finding her, it vanished ; at the sam 
moment, the girl died '*. 

Akin to the story of the piper is that mad 
familiar to us by Goethe's poem, the Erlking. 

A father is riding late at night with his chil 
wrapped in a mantle. The little fellow hears th 
erlking chanting in his ear, and promising him th 
glories of Elf-land, where his daughters dance an 
sing, awaiting him, if he will follow. The fathe 
hushes the child, and bids him not to listen, for i 
is only the whistling of the wind among the trees, 
But the song has lured the little soul away, an^ 
when the father unfolds his mantle, the child is 

It is curious that a trace of this myth should re- 
main among the Wesleyans. From my experience 
of English dissenters, I am satisfied that their reli- 
gion is, to a greater extent than any one has sup- 

^ Praetorius, i. 40. 


The Piper of Hameln 425 

posed, a revival of ancient paganism, which has 
long lain dormant among the English peasantry. 
A Wesleyan told me one day that he was sure his 
little servant-girl was going to die; for the night 
before, as he had lain awake, he had heard an 
angel piping to her in the adjoining room ; the music 
was inexpressibly sweet, like the warbling of a flute. 
"And when t'aingels gang that road," said the 
Yorkshire man, " they're boun to tak bairns' souls 
wi' em." I know several cases of Wesleyans de- 
claring that they were going to die, because they 
had heard voices singing to them, which none but 
themselves had distinguished, telling them of the — 

" happy land 

Far, far away," 

precisely as the piper of Hameln's notes seemed to 
the lame lad to speak of a land — 

" Where flowers put forth a fairer hue, 
And every thing was strange and new/' 

And I have heard of a death being accounted for 
by a band of music playing in the neighbourhood. 
" When t'music was agaite, her soul was forced to 
be off." 

A hymn by the late Dr. Faber, now very popu- 
lar, is unquestionably founded on this ancient 

426 The Piper of Hameln 

superstition, and is probably an unconscious revival^ 
of early dissenting reminiscences. 

" Hark ! hark, my soul ! Angelic songs are swelling 
O'er earth's green fields and ocean's wave-beat shore : 
How sweet the truth those blessed strains are telling 
Of that new life when sin shall be no more ! 

" Onward we go, for still we hear them singing, 
Come, weary souls, for Jesus bids you come : 
And through the dark, its echoes sweetly ringing. 
The music of the Gospel leads us home. 
Angels of Jesus, Angels of Light, 
Singing to welcome the pilgrims of the night." 

An idea which I have myself consciously adopted 
in a hymn on the severing of Jordan (People's 
Hymnal, 3), upon the principle which led the early 
Christians to adopt the figure of Orpheus as a sym- 
bol of Christ. 

" Sweet angels are calling to me from yon shore, 
Come over, come over, and wander no more." 

The music which our English dissenters considei 
as that of angels' singing, is attributed by the Ger- 
mans to the Elves, and their song is called Alpleicl 
or Elfenreigen. Children are cautioned not t< 
listen to it, or believe in the promises made, in th( 
weird spirit-song. If they hearken, then Frat 
Holle, the ancient goddess Hulda, takes them tc 
wander with her in the forests. 

A young man heard the music, and was filled with] 

The Piper of Hameln 427 

an irresistible longing to be with Dame HoUe. Three 
days after he died, and it was said of him, " He 
preferred the society of Frau Hulda to heaven, and 
now till the judgment he must wander with her in 
the forest*." In like manner, in Scandinavian ballads, 
we are told of youths who were allured away by 
the sweet strains of the Elf maidens ^ Their music 
is called ellfr-lek, in Icelandic liiiflingslag, in Nor- 
wegian Huldresldt. 

The reader will have already become conscious' 
that these northern myths resemble the classic 
fable of the Sirens, with their magic lay ; of Ulysses 
with his ears open, bound to the mast, longing to 
rush to their arms, and perish. 

The root of the myth is this : the piper is no other 
than the wind, and ancients held that in the wind 
were the souls of the dead. All over England the 
peasants believe still that the spirits of unbap- 
tized children wander in it, and that the wail at 
their doors and windows are the cries of the little 
souls condemned to journey till the last day. The 
ancient German goddess Hulda was ever accom- 
panied by a crowd of children's souls, and Odin in 
his wild hunt rushed over the tree-tops, accompa- 

* Zeitschrift fur Deutsche Myth. i. 27. 

^ Svenska fornsanger, 2. 308. Danske viser, i. 235 — 240 

428 The Piper of Hamehi 

nied by the scudding train of brave men's spirits, 
is because the soul is thought to travel on the win 
that we open the window to let a dying pers 
breathe his last. Often have I had it repeated 
me that the person in extremis could not die, th, 
he struggled to die, but was unable till the ca 
ment was thrown open, and then at once his spi 

In one of the Icelandic sagas we have a stran 
story of a man standing at his house-door, and se 
ing the souls go by in the air, and among the so 
was his own ; he told the tak and died. 

In Greek mythology, Hermes Psychopomp 
carries the spirits of the dead to Hades ; and 
Egyptian fable, Thoth performs the same office, 
am satisfied that we have in Hermes two entire! 
distinct divinities run into one, through the confu 
sion of similar names, that the Pelasgic, Ithyphal 
Hermes is an entirely distinct god from the tricks; 
thievish youth with winged feet and flutterin 
mantle. The Pelasgic Hermes (from epyjo) is th 
sun as generator of life, whilst the other Herm 
(from opyi-r]) is the impetuous wind, whose represe: 
tative Sarama exists as the gale in Indian myth 
logy. Hermes Psychopompos is therefore the wim 
bearing away the souls of the dead. He has oth 


The Piper of Haineln 429 

atmospheric characteristics : the flying cloak, a sym- 
bol of the drifting cloud, — as Odin, the rushing of 
storm, is also Hekluberandi, the mantle-bearer ; the 
winged Talaria, emblems of the swiftness of his 
flight ; and the lyre, wherewith he closes the thou- 
sand eyes of Argos, the starry firmament, signify- 
ing the music of the blast. 

The very names given to the soul, animuSj avefio^s 
or spiritus, and athem, signify wind or breath, and 
point to the connexion which was supposed to 
exist between them. Our word Ghost, the German 
Geist, is from a root "gisan," to gush and blow, as 
does the wind. 

In the classic Sirens we cannot fail to detect the 
wailing of the rising storm in the cordage, which is J 
likely to end in shipwrecks. The very name of 
Siren is from avpiZco, to pipe or whistle'', just as their 
representatives in Vedic mythology, the Ribhus, 
draw their name from red/i, to sound, to which the 
Greek potjS^iu) is akin. The Sirens are themselves 
winged beings *, rushing over the earth, seeking 
every where the lost Persephone. 

But the piping wind does not merely carry with 
it the souls of the dead, and give the mariner 

' Cognate words, Lat. susurrus, Sanskrit svrz, to sound. 
8 Eurip. Hel. 167. 

430 The Piper of Hameln 


warning of approaching wreck : it does something 
besides. Let us lie on a hill-side, and watch the 
rising gale. All is still and motionless. Pre- 
sently we hear the whistle in the grass, and then 
every herb and tree is set in agitation. The trees 
toss from side to side, and the flowers waver, and 
rock their bells. All are set dancing, and cann ot m 
stop till the piping has ceased. In this we have th^H 
rudiment of another myth, that of the musical 
instrument which, when played, sets every thing 

Grimm has a story to this effect : a lad obtains a 
bow which will bring down any thing he aims at, 
and a fiddle which, when scraped, will make all who 
hear it dance. He shoots a bird, and it falls into a 
bush of thorns; a Jew goes into the bush to get thj 
bird, then the lad strikes up a tune on his instn 
ment, and makes the Jew dance in the bush till 
has paid him a large sum to obtain rest. In 
Walachian story it is the Almighty who gives tl 
lad a bagpipe. The tale runs thus : a boy rui 
away from his brother with a quern; on the approac 
of night he hides in a tree. Some robbers com| 
beneath the tree, and spread out their spoils. Tl 
lad drops the mill-stone, which puts the robbers 
flight, and he thus obtains the gold Then tl 

The Piper of Hameln 431 

story runs on like that of Grimm, only the Jew is 
replaced by a priest (Schott, xxii). 

The same story is found among the modern 
Greeks, and the hero has a pipe, and his name is 

We have a similar tale in England, published by 
Wynkyn de Worde, entitled "A merry Geste of the 
Frere and the Boye," in which the lad receives — 

a bowe 

Byrdes to shete" 

and a pipe of marvellous power — 

" All that may the pype here 
Shall not themselfe stere, 
But laugh and lepe about ^'' 

In the Icelandic Herauds ok Bosa Saga, which 
rests on mythologic foundation, a harp occurs which 
belonged to a certain Sigurd. Bosi slays Sigurd, 
puts on his skin and clothes, and taking the harp, 
goes in this disguise to the banquet-hall of king 
Godmund, where his true-love is about to be wed 
to another man. He plays the harp, and the 
knives and plates, the tables and stools, then the 
guests, and lastly the monarch himself, are set 
dancing. He keeps them capering till they are too 

' Von Hahn, Griechische Mahrchen, No. 34. 
* Ritson, Pieces of Ancient Poetry. 

432 The Piper of Hameln 

exhausted to move a limb ; then he casts the 
bride over his shoulder and makes off^ 

In the mediaeval romance of Huon de Bordeaux, 
Oberon's horn has the same properties ; and in a 
Spanish tale of the Fandango, at the strains of the 
tune, the Pope and cardinals are made to danccj 
and jig about. 

In that most charming collection of fairy talesJ 
made in Southern Ireland by Mr. Crofton Crokeq 
we meet with the same wonderful tune ; but the' 
fable relating to it has suffered in the telling, and 
the parts have been inverted. Maurice Connor, 
the blind piper, could play an air which could set 
every thing, alive or dead, capering. In what way 
he learned it is not known. At the very first note 
of that tune the brogues began shaking upon the 
feet of all who heard it, old or young ; then the 
feet began going, going from under them, and at 
last up and away with them, dancing like mad, 
whisking here, there, and every where, like a straw 
in a storm : — there was no halting while the music 
lasted. One day Maurice piped this tune on the 
sea-shore, and at once every inch of it was covered 
with all manner of fish, jumping and plunging about 

" Fommanna Sogur, iii. p. 221. 

The Piper of Hameln 433 

to the music ; and every moment more and more 

would tumble out of the water, charmed by the 

wonderful tune. Crabs of monstrous size spun 

round and round on one claw with the nimbleness 

of a dancing-master, and twirled and tossed their 

other claws about like limbs that did not belong to 


" John-dories came tripping ; 
Dull hake by their skipping 

To frisk it seem'd given ; 
Bright mackrel came springing, 
Like small rainbows winging 

Their flight up to heaven ; 
The whiting and haddock 
Left salt-water paddock 

This dance to be put in, 
Where skate with flat faces 
Edged out some odd plaices ; 

But soles kept their footing." 

Then up came a mermaid, and whispered to Maurice 
of the charms of the land beneath the sea, and the 
blind piper danced after her into the salt sea, fol- 
lowed by the fish, and was never seen more. 

In Sclavonic tales the magical instrument has a 
quite opposite effect — it sends to sleep. This sig- 
nifies the whistling autumn wind, chilling the earth 
and checking all signs of life and vegetation. But 
another magical harp— that is, the spring breeze — 
restores all to vigour. The sorcerer enchants with 

F f 

434 The Piper of Hameln 

the tones of his guzla, and all is hushed,— that i 
the winter god sends the earth to sleep at the soun 
of his frozen gale ; but, with the notes of the sprini 
zephyr, the sun-god, golden-haired, revives creatio: 
overcoming the charm '. 

It is this marvellous harp which was stolen b; 
Jack when he climbed the bean-stalk to the upper 
world. In that story the ogre in the land above t 
skies, who was once the All-father, till Christianit 
made a monster of him, possessed three treasures 
a harp which played of itself enchanting music, bag 
of gold and diamonds, and a hen which daily laid 
golden &g^. The harp is the wind, the bags a 
the clouds dropping the sparkling rain, and th 
golden ^g^y laid every morning by the red hen, 
the dawn-produced sun, I have not space he 
to establish these two latter points, but they a 
repeated in so many cosmogonies, that there can bi 
little doubt as to my interpretation being correct. 

Among the Quiches of Guatemala, not a little 
to our surprise, the magic pipe which causes to 
dance is to be found. In their sacred book, the 
Popol-Vuh, the twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque 
turn their half-brothers into apes. Then they go 

•' Chodzko, Contes des Paysans Slaves, i86,^ 



The Piper of Hameln 435 

to the mother, who asks where the lads are. The 
twins reply that she shall have them again, if she 
can behold them without laughing. Then they 
begin to play on their pipes ; at the sound, the 
transformed brothers, Hunbatz and Hunchouen, 
are attracted from the forest to the house, they 
enter it and begin to dance. Their mother laughs 
at their comical gestures, and they vanish (Popol- 
Vuh, b. ii. c. 5). 

I very much fear that I am leading my readers 
a sad dance, like one of these strange pipers ; I 
only hope that I shall not, like the Sclavonic 
daemon harper, send them to sleep. We must go 
a little further. 

It is curious that the lyre-god Apollo should be 
called Smintheus, because he delivered Phrygia 
from a plague of rats. How he performed this 
feat we do not know ; probably it was, after the 
manner of the Hameln piper, with his lyre, for we 
find that in Greek fable that instrument has powers 
attractive to the beasts attributed to it. The rats, 
as animals loving darkness, may have been regarded 
as symbols of night, and Apollo driving them from 
the land may have typified the sun scattering 

Orpheus with his strains allured birds and beasts 
F f 2 


The Piper of Hameln 

around him, and made the trees and herbs to groi 
The name Orpheus has been supposed to be idei 
tical with the Vedic Ribhus, which, no doubt, in i1 
original form, was Arbhus. This, however, is n( 
certain. Preller supposes Orpheus to come froi 
the same root as opcpvrj, epe^o^, and to signif 
gloom (Griechische Myth. ii. p. 486) ; but this 
most improbable. He was a son of Apollo, an^ 
therefore probably a solar god. 

It was hardly to be expected that such a chan 
ing and innocent myth as that of Orpheus shoulc 
have been allowed to drop by the early Christians 
They made a legitimate and graceful use of it 
the catacombs, when they presented it as an alh 
gory of Christ, who, by the sweet strains of Hi 
gospel, overcame brutish natures, making the wo^ 
to lie down with the lamb. But a less justifiabl 
adaptation of the figure was that of the mediaevs 
hagiologists, when they took from Orpheus his lyri^ 
and robbed him of his song, and split him into 
Francis and S. Anthony, the former with his preacl 
ing attracting the birds, the latter learnedly pr< 
pounding scriptural types to the fishes. 

It is curious that this Orpheus myth shoulj 
be found scattered among Aryan and Turaniai 

The Piper of Hameln 437 

In Sanskrit, it is told of Gunadhya, in connexion 
with the SibylHne books story. The poet Guna- 
dhya, an incarnation of Maljavan, writes with his 
own blood, in the forest, a mighty book of tales, in 
seven hundred thousand slokas. He then sends 
the book by his two pupils, Gunadeva and Nandi- 
deva, to king Satavahana, but he rejects it as being 
composed in the Pisacha dialect. Gunadhya then 
ascends a mountain, and lights a great pile of fire- 
wood. He reads aloud his tales, and as he finishes 
each page, he casts it into the flames. Thus perish 
one hundred thousand slokas. Whilst the poet 
reads, stags, deer, bears, buffaloes, and roebucks, 
in short all the beasts of the forest, assemble and 
weep tears of delight at the beauty of the tales. 
In the mean time, the king falls ill, and the doctors 
order him game. But game is not to be found in' 
the forest, for every living creature of the woods is 
listening to Gunadhya. The huntsmen report this 
to the king, and the monarch hastens to the scene, 
and offers to buy the wondrous book. But, alas ! 
by this time only one of the seven hundred thousand 
slokas remains "*. 

But this is not the ancient form of the Indian 
myth. The poet Gunadhya is the heavenly Mal- 
* Katha Sarit Sagara, i., c. 8. 

438 The Piper of Hamcln 

javan incarnate, and the fable properly belongs t( 
some of the heavenly musicians, the Ribhus, Maruti 
or Gandharvas. 

In the mythology of the Rig Veda, the Ribhus art 
skilled artists, whose element is the summer's gentb 
stirring breeze. They are akin to the Maruts, th< 
rough winds, with whom they unite in singing 
magic song. The Arbhus became in Teuton!^ 
mythology the Alben, Elben or Elfen, our Elfs, an< 
in Scandinavian the Alfar. The names are tl 
same : Arbhus became altered into Albhu, by th^ 
change of the r into / ; the b in the old Germat 
Elbe is replaced in modern German and Norse by 

The spring and summer breezes were deified 
by the ancient Aryans. According to the Rig Veda, 
they slumber in winter for twelve days, and when_ 
they waken, the earth is decked with flowers, th^ 
trees with foliage, and the floodgates of the streams 
are unlocked. These Ribhus were the offspring of 
Sudhanvan, the skilful archer, just as the classic 
Orpheus was the son of the bow-bearing Apollo. 
They are probably identical with the Gandharvas, 
heavenly musicians attending on Indra (Mahabh. 
i. 4806). The name Gandharva is derived from 
gaiidh, to harass, injure, and was applied to them as 

The Piper of Hameln 439 

violent winds rending the clouds and scattering the 
leaves. They were represented as horses, and, ac- 
cording to some etymologists, are the originals of 
the Centaurs. 

I remember one summer evening ascending a 
knoll in the district of the Landes in Southern 
France — once a region of moving sand-hills, now a 
vast tract of pine-forest. The air was fragrant with 
the breath of the fir-woods and the luscious exhala- 
tions of the flowery acacias. On all sides stretched 
the pines, basking in the sun, and rolling, like a 
green sea, to the snowy range of the Pyrenees, 
which hung in vaporous blue on the horizon — 

" Faintly-flush, phantom-fair — 

A thousand shadowy-pencill'd valleys 
And snowy dells in a golden air." 

Perfect stillness reigned : not a sound from bird 
or beast was audible. Suddenly a strange, at first 
inexplicable, music vibrated through the air. Tender 
and distant, as though a thousand harp-strings were 
set a-quivering by the most delicate fingers, it rose 
up the scale by fractions of tones, and then de- 
scended again. Weird harmonies broke in upon 
and overflowed the melody, then ebbed away into 
sobs of music, again to reunite into a continued 
undulating chant. Not a breath stirred in my im- 

4)40 The Piper of Hameln 

mediate neighbourhood, but the music of the forest 
was unquestionably brought out by a partial 
breeze, at some Httle distance. Any thing more 
solemn and beautiful could hardly be conceived : it 
was not like earthly instrumental strains, nor lik< 
what we deem the music of the spheres — it w; 
the voice of nature expressing its rapture. Th 
Apostle tells us that Creation groans and travail 
in its pangs — it does so ; but it at times exchangi 
these utterances of pain for an outburst of the jo; 
of its vitality. 

This was the wandering harp of Orpheus seekin 
the lost Eurydice, the song of the Ribhus, the tale 
chanting of Gunadhya, the lay of the sons of Kalew^ 
and the harping of Wainamoinen. 

The Esthonian description of the charm of thi 
wood-music is very graphic, and may be set beside 
Ovid's account of the springing of the trees at the 
playing of Orpheus. 

" In the dusky pine-tree forest 
Sat the eldest son of Kalew, 

Singing 'neath a branching fir. 
As from swelling throat he chanted, 
Danced the fir-cones on the branches ; 

Every leaflet was astir. 
All the larches thrill'd, and budding, 

Burst to tufts of silky green ; 
Waved the pine-tops in the sunset, 


The Piper of Haniehi 441 

Steep'd in lustrous purple sheen. 
Catkins dangled on the hazels, 
On the oak the acorns sprouted, 

And the black-thorn blossom'd white, 
Sudden wreathed in snowy tresses, 
Fragrant in the evening glory, 

Scenting all the moonlit night." 

Then the second son of Kalew goes to a birch- 
wood, and sings there. Then the corn begins to 
kern, the petals of the cherry to drop off, and the 
luscious fruit to swell and redden, the ripening apple 
to blush towards the sun, the cranberry and the 
whortle to speckle the moor with scarlet and 

Then the third son intones his lay in a forest of 
oaks, and the beasts assemble, the birds give voice, 
the lark sings shrill, the cuckoo calls, the doves coo, 
and the magpies chatter, the swans utter their 
trumpet-note, the sparrows twitter, and then as they 
weary, with sweet flute-like note sad Philomel 
begins his strain (Kalewpoeg. Rune iii.). 

In the Finn mythology, these results follow the 
playing of Wainamoinen's magic harp. The story 
of this instrument is singular enough. 

Wainamoinen went to a waterfall, and killed a 
pike which swam below it. Of the bones of this 
fish he constructed a harp, just as Hermes made 

The Piper of Hameln 

his lyre of the tortoise-shell. But he dropped 
instrument into the sea, and thus it fell into 
power of the sea-gods, which accounts for th 
music of the ocean on the beach. The hero the 
made another from ihe forest wood, and with it d 
scended to Pohjo^a, the realm of darkness, in quest 
of the mystic Sampo ; just as in the classic myth 
Orpheus went down to Hades, to bring thence 
Eurydice. When in the realm of gloom perpetua 
the Finn demi-god struck his kantele, and sen 
all the inhabitants of Pohjola to sleep ; as Herme 
when about to steal lo, made the eyes of Argu 
close at the sound of his lyre. Then he ran off 
with the Sampo, and had nearly got it to the Ian 
of light, when the dwellers in Pohjola awoke, an 
pursued and fought him for the ravished treasure,' 
which, in the struggle, fell into the sea and wa 
lost ; again reminding us of the classic tale o 

The effects of the harping of Wainamoine: 
remind one of those accompanying the playing 
the Greek lyrist. 

" The ancient Wainamoinen began to sing ; h 
raised his clear and limpid voice, and his ligh 
fingers danced over the strings of the kantele, whilst 
joy answered to joy, and song to song. Every 




The Piper of Hameln 443 

beast of the forest and fowl of the air came about 
him, to listen to the sweet voice, and to taste the 
music of his strains. The wolf deserted the swamp, 
the bear forsook his forest lair ; they ascended the 
hedge, and the hedge gave way. Then they climbed 
the pine, and sat on the boughs, hearkening whilst 
Wainamoinen intoned his joy. The old black- 
bearded monarch of the forest, and all the host of 
Tapio, hastened to listen. His wife, the brave lady 
of Tapiola, put on her socks of blue, and her laces 
of red, and ascended a hollow trunk to listen to the 
god. The eagles came down from the cloud, the 
falcon dropped through the air, the mew flitted 
from the shore, the swan forsook the limpid waves, 
the swift lark, the light swallow, the graceful finches 
perched on the shoulders of the god. The fair vir- 
gins of the air, the rich and gorgeous sun, the gentle 
beaming moon, halted, the one on the luminous 
vault of heaven, the other leaning on the edge of a 
cloud. There they wove with the golden shuttle 
and the silver comb. They heard the unknown 
voice, the sweet song of the hero. And the silver 
comb fell, the golden shuttle dropped, and the 
threads of their tissue were broken. Then came 
the salmon and the trout, the pike and the porpoise, 
fish great and small, towards the shore, listening to 

444 The Piper of Hameln ^^B 

the sweet strains of the charmer " (Kalewala, Run J 

xxii.). I 

In one of the heroic ballads of the Minussincheil 

Tartars, the wind, which is represented as a foal 

which courses round the world, finds that its master' J 

two children, Aidolei Mirgan and Alten KuruptjiM 

which I take to be the morning and evening star J 

are dead and buried and watched by seven warrior J 

The foal changes himself into a maiden, an« 

comes singing to the tomb such bewitching strainJ 

that J 

" All the creatures of the forest, ,^J 

All the wing'd fowl of the air, -:^^| 

Come and breathless to her listen ;" '^^f 

and the watchers are charmed into letting her steal 
away the children, as Hermes stole lo from Argusl 
and she revives them with the water of life, which in 
the dew '. I 

In Scandinavian mythology, Odin was famous fol 
his Rune chanting ; and the power of bewitching 
creation with these Runes obtained for him th( 
name of Galdner, from gala, to sing, a root retainec 
in our nightingale, the night-songster; in gale, 
name applied to the wind from its singing powers 

* Heldensagen der Minussischen Tataren, v. A. Schiefnei 
S. Petersburg, 1859, P- ^o- 

The Piper of Hameln 445 

and In the Latin gallus, the noisy chanticleer of the 

A trace of the myth appears in the ancient 
German heroic Gudrunlied, where the powers are 
ascribed to Horant, Norse Hjarrandi, who is 
described as singing a song which no one could 
learn. " These strains he sang, and they were won- 
drous. To none were they too long, who heard the 
strains. The time it would take one to ride a thou- 
sand miles passed, whilst listening to him, as a mo- 
ment. The wild beast of the forest and the timid 
deer hearkened, the little worms crept forth in the 
green meadows, fishes swam up to listen, each for- 
getting its nature, so long as he chanted his song." 
On reading this, we are reminded of that sweet 
German legend, so gracefully rendered by Long- 
fellow, wherein the parts are changed, and it is no 
more the birds listening to the song of man, but 
proud man, with finger on lip and bated breath, 
listening to the matchless warble of the bird, 

" A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yes- 
terday ! " mused Brother Felix ; " how may that 
be .'' " and full of doubt over God's word he went 
forth to meditate in the forest. 

" And lo ! he heard 
The sudden singing of a bird, 

446 The Piper of Hameln 

A snow-white bird, that from a cloud 

Dropp'd down, 

And among the branches brown 

Sat singing 

So sweet, and clear, and loud, 

It seem'd a thousand harp-strings ringing. 

And the Monk Felix closed his book, 

And long, long 

With rapturous look 

He listen'd to the song, 

And hardly breathed or stirr'd." 

As he thus listened years rolled by, and on 
return to the convent he found all changed — new 
faces in the refectory and in the choir. 

Then the monastery roll was brought forth 
wherein were written the names of all who had be- 
longed to that house of prayer, and therein it was 
found — 

" T^hat on a certain day and date. 
One thousand years before. 
Had gone forth from the convent gate 
The Monk Felix, and never more 
Had enter'd that sacred door : 
He had been counted among the dead. 
And they knew at last, 
That, such had been the power 
Of that celestial and immortal song, 
A thousand years had pass'd. 
And had not seem'd so long 
As a single hour.*' 

I hls^^ 


/^^F the many who yearly visit the Rhine, and 
^-^ bring away with them reminiscences of totter- 
ing castles and desecrated convents, whether they 
take interest or not in the legends inseparably 
attached to these ruins, none, probably, have failed 
to learn and remember the famous story of God's 
judgment on the wicked Bishop Hatto, in the 
quaint Mausethurm, erected on a little rock in 

At the close of the tenth century lived Hatto, 
once abbot of Fulda, where he ruled the monks 
with great prudence for twelve years, and after- 
wards Bishop of Mayence. 

In the year 970, Germany suffered from famine. 

" The summer and autumn had been so wet, 
That in winter the corn was growing yet. 
'Twas a piteous sight to see all around 
The corn lie rotting on the ground. 

448 Bishop Hatto 

" Every day the starving poor 
Crowded around Bishop Piatto's door, 
For he had a plentiful last year's store ; 
And all the neighbourhood could tell 
His granaries were furnish'd well." 

Wearied by the cries of the famishing people, the 
Bishop appointed a day, whereon he undertook to 
quiet them. He bade all who were without bread, 
and the means to purchase it at its then high rat( 
repair to his great barn. From all quarters, fa 
and near, the poor hungry folk flocked into Kaul 
and were admitted into the barn, till it was as fi 
of people as it could be made to contain. 

" Then, when he saw it could hold no more, 
Bishop Hatto he made fast the door, 
And while for mercy on Christ they call, 
He set fire to the barn, and burnt them all 

" * rfaith, 'tis an excellent bonfire ! ' quoth he, 
* And the country is greatly obliged to me 
For ridding it, in these times forlorn, 
Of rats that only consume the corn.' 

" So then to his palace returned he. 
And he sat down to supper merrily, 
And he slept that night like an innocent man ; 
But Bishop Hatto never slept again. 

"In the morning, as he enter'd the hall 
Where his picture hung against the wall, 
A sweat, like death, all over him came. 
For the rats had eaten it out of the frame." 

Then there came a man to him from his farm, 

Bishop Hatto 449 

with a countenance pale with fear, to tell him that 
the rats had devoured all the corn in his granaries. 
And presently there came another servant, to 
inform him that a legion of rats was on its way to 
his palace. The Bishop looked from his window, 
and saw the road and fields dark with the moving 
multitude ; neither hedge nor wall impeded their 
progress, as they made straight for his mansion. 
Then, full of terror, the prelate fled by his postern, 
and, taking a boat, was rowed out to his tower in 
the river. 

and barr'd 

All the gates secure and hard. 

" He laid him down, and closed his eyes ; 
But soon a scream made him arise. 
He started, and saw two eyes of flame 
On his pillow, from whence the screaming came. 

" He listen'd and look'd — it was only the cat ; 
But the Bishop he grew more fearful for that, 
For she sat screaming, mad with fear. 
At the army of rats that were drawing near. 

" For they have swum over the river so deep, 
And they have climb'd the shores so steep, 
And now by thousands up they crawl 
To the holes and windows in the wall. 

" Down on his knees the Bishop fell. 
And faster and faster his beads did tell. 
As louder and louder, drawing near. 
The saw of their teeth without he could hean 

G er 

450 Bishop Hatto 

" And in at the windows, and in at the door, 
And through the walls by thousands they pour. 
And down from the ceiling, and up through the floor, 
From the right and the left, from behind and before, 
From within and without, from above and below, 
And all at once to the Bishop they go. 

" They have whetted their teeth against the stones, 
And now they pick the Bishop's bones ; 
They gnaw'd the flesh from every limb, 
For they were sent to do judgment on him." 

It is satisfactory to know that popular fiction hi 
maligned poor Bishop Hatto, who was not by ai 
means a hard-hearted and wicked prelate. Woj 
fius \ who tells the story on the authority of Hone 
rius Augustodunensis (d. 1152), Marianus Scoti 
(d. 1086), and Grithemius (d. 1516), accompanying 
it with the curious picture which is reproduced on 
the opposite page, says, "This is regarded by 
many as a fable, yet the tower, taking its name 
from the mice, exists to this day in the river 
Rhine." But this is no evidence, as there is docu- 
mentary proof that the tower was erected as a 
station for collecting tolls on the vessels which 
passed up and down the river. 

The same story is told of other persons and 
places. Indeed, Wolfius reproduces his picture of 

* Wolfii Lect. Memorab. Centenarii xvi. Lavingse, 1600, 
tom. i. p. 343. 

[To face pa$e 450. 
From Job. TT'olfli Lect. Memorab. Laymjee (1600). 

Bishop Hatto 451 

Hatto in the mouse-tower, to do service as an illus- 
tration of the dreadful death of Widerolf, Bishop of 
Strasburg (997), who, in the seventeenth year of 
his episcopate, on July 17th, in punishment for 
having suppressed the convent of Seltzen on the 
Rhine, was attacked and devoured by mice or 
rats^ The same fate is also attributed to Bishop 
Adolf of Cologne, who died in 1112 ^ 

The story comes to us from Switzerland. A 
Freiherr von Giittingen possessed three castles 
between Constance and Arbon, in the Canton of 
Thurgau, namely, Giittingen, Moosburg, and Ober- 
burg. During a famine, he collected the poor of 
his territory into a great barn, and there consumed 
them, mocking their cries by exclamations of 
" Hark ! how the rats and mice are squeaking." 
Shortly after, he was attacked by an army of mice, 
and fled to his castle of Giittingen in the waters of 
the Lake of Constance ; but the vermin pursued 
him to his retreat, and devoured him. The castle 
then sank into the lake, and its ruins are distin- 

2 Id. torn. i. p. 270. See also Konigshofen's Chronik. 
Konigshofen was priest of Strasbourg (b. 1360, d. 1420). 
His German Chronicle contains the story of Bishop Widerolf 
and the mice. 

^ San-Marte, Germania, viii. 77. 
G g 2 

452 Bishop Hatto 

guishable when the water is clear and unruffled \ 
In Austria, a similar legend is related of the mouse 
tower at Holzolster, with this difference only, that 
the hard-hearted nobleman casts the poor people 
into a dungeon and starves them to death, instead 
of burning them ^ 

Between Inning and Seefeld in Bavaria is thi 
Worthsee, called also the Mouse-lake. There wai 
once a Count of Seefeld, who in time of famine pu 
all his starving poor in a dungeon, jested at th 
cries, which he called the squeaking of mice, a 
was devoured by these animals in his tower in the 
lake, to which he fled from them, although b 
suspended his bed by iron chains from the roof ^ 

A similar story is told of the Mauseschloss in t 
Hirschberger lake. A Polish version occurs in ol 
historical writers. 

Martinus Gallus, who wrote in mo, says that 
King Popiel, having been driven from his kingdom, 
was so tormented by mice, that he fled to an island 
whereon was a wooden tower, in which he took 
refuge ; but the host of mice and rats swam over 
and ate him up. The story is told more fully by 

* Zeitschrift f. Deut. Myth. iii. p. 307. 
^ Vernaleken, Alpensagen, p. 328. 
Zeitschrift f. Deut. Myth. i. p. 452. 



Bishop Hatto 453 

Majolus^ When the Poles murmured at the bad 
government of the king, and sought redress, Popiel 
summoned the chief murmurers to his palace, 
where he pretended that he was ill, and then poi- 
soned them. After this the corpses were flung 
by his orders into the lake Gopolo. Then the king 
held a banquet of rejoicing at having freed himself 
from these troublesome complainers. But during 
the feast, by a strange metamorphosis {inira qiia- 
dam metamorphosi), an enormous number of mice 
issued from the bodies of his poisoned subjects, and 
rushing on the palace, attacked the king and his 
family. Popiel took refuge within a circle of fire, 
but the mice broke through the flaming ring ; then 
he fled with his wife and child to a castle in the 
sea, but was followed by the animals and devoured. 
A Scandinavian legend is to this effect ^ King 
Knut the Saint was murdered by the Earl Asbjorn, 
in the church of S. Alban, in Odense, during an 
insurrection of the Jutes, in 1086. Next year the 
country suffered severely from famine, and this was 
attributed to Divine vengeance for the murder of 
the king. Asbjorn was fallen upon by rats, and 
eaten up. 

' Majolus, Dierum Canic. p. 793. 

8 Afzelius, Sagohafder (2nd ed.), ii. p. 133. 

Hsftop Hatto 

William of Malmesbury tells this story ": 
have heard a person of the utmost veracity rela 
that one of the adversaries of Henry IV. (of G 
many), a weak and factious man, while reclining 
a banquet, was on a sudden so completely s 
rounded by mice as to be unable to escape, 
great was the number of these little animals, tha' 
there could scarcely be imagined more in a who! 
province. It was in vain that they were attack 
with clubs and fragments of the benches which we 
at hand ; and though they were for a long ti 
assailed by all, yet they wreaked their deput 
curse on no one else ; pursuing him only with the 
teeth, and with a kind of dreadful squeaking. A 
although he was carried out to sea about a javeli 
cast by the servants, yet he could not by these 
means escape their violence ; for immediately 
great a multitude of mice took to the water, th 
you would have sworn the sea was strewed wi 
chaff. But when they began to gnaw the plan 
of the ship, and the water, rushing through t 
chinks, threatened inevitable shipwreck, the servan' 
turned the vessel to the shore. The animals, th 
also swimming close to the ship, landed first 


William of Malmesbury, book iii., Bohn's trans., p. 313.' 

Bishop Hatto 455 

Thus the wretch, set on shore, and soon after 
entirely gnawed in pieces, satiated the dreadful 
hunger of the mice. 

" I deem this the less wonderful, because it is well 
known that in Asia, if a leopard bite any person, a 

party of mice approach directly But if, 

by the care of servants driving them off, the de- 
struction can be avoided during nine days, then 
medical assistance, if called in, may be of service. 
My informant had seen a person wounded after 
this manner, who, despairing of safety on shore, 
proceeded to sea, and lay at anchor ; when, imme- 
diately, more than a thousand mice swam out, 
wonderful to relate, in the rinds of pomegranates, 
the insides of which they had eaten ; but they 
were drowned through the loud shouting of the 

Albertus Trium-Fontium tells the same story 
under the year 1083, quoting probably from 
William of Malmesbury. 

Giraldus Cambrensis (d. 1220), in his " Itinerary," 
relates a curious story of a youth named Siscillus 
Esceir-hir, or Long-shanks, who was attacked in his 
bed by multitudes of toads, and who fled from them 
to the top of a tree, but was pursued by the reptiles, 
and his flesh picked from his bones. " And in like 

456 Bishop Hatio 

manner," he adds, " we read of how by the secret, 
but never unjust, counsel of God a certain man 
was persecuted by the larger sort of mice which 
are commonly called rati '." 

And Thietmar of Merseburg (b. 976, d. 1018) says, 
that there was once a certain knight who, having 
appropriated the goods of S. Clement, and refuse 
to make restitution, was one day attacked by 
innumerable host of mice, as he lay in bed. 
first he defended himself with a club, then with hi 
sword, and, as he found himself unable to coj 
with the multitude, he ordered his servants t| 
put him in a box, and suspend this by a rope froi 
the ceiling, and as soon as the mice were gone, to 
liberate him. But the animals pursued him even 
thus, and when he was taken down, it was found 
that they had eaten the flesh and skin off his bones. 
And it became manifest to all how obnoxious to 
God is the sin of sacrilege ^ 

Caesarius of Heisterbach (Dist. ii. c. 31) tells a 
tale of a usurer in Cologne, who, moved with 
compunction for his sins, confessed to a priest, 
who bade him fill a chest with bread, as alms for 

^ Girald. Cambr. Itin. Cambrias, lib. xi. c. 2. 
' Thietmar, Ep. Merseburg. Chronici libri viii., lib. vi; 
c. 30. 

Bishop Hatto 457 

the poor attached to the church of S. Gereon. 
Next morning the loaves were found transformed 
into toads and frogs. " Behold," said the priest, 
" the value of your alms in the sight of God !" To 
which the terrified usurer replied, " Lord, what shall 
I do?" And the priest answered, "If you wish 
to be saved, lie this night naked amidst these 
reptiles." Wondrous contrition. He, though he 
recoiled from such a couch, preferred to lie among 
worms which perish, rather than those which are 
eternal ; and he cast himself nude upon the crea- 
tures. Then the priest went to the box, shut it, 
and departed ; which, when he opened it on the 
following day, he found to contain nothing save 
human bones. 

It will be seen from these versions of the Hatto 
myth, how prevalent among the Northern nations 
was the idea of men being devoured by vermin. 
The manner of accounting for their death differs, 
but all the stories agree in regarding that death 
as mysterious. 

I believe the origin of these stories to be a 
heathen human sacrifice made in times of famine. 
That such sacrifice took place among the Scandi- 
navian and Teutonic peoples is certain. Tacitus 
tells us that the Germans sacrificed men. Snorro 

458 Bishop Hatto 

Sturlesson (d. 1241) gives us an instance of the 
Swedes offering their king to obtain abundant 
crops "l 

"Donald took the heritage after his father Vis- 
bur, and ruled over the land. As in his time there 
was a great famine and distress, the Swedes made 
great offerings of sacrifice at Upsala. The first 
autumn they sacrificed oxen, but the succeeding 
season was not improved by it. The following 
autumn they sacrificed men, but the succeeding 
year was rather worse. The third autumn, whei 
the offer of sacrifices should begin, a great multi- 
tude of Swedes came to Upsala ; and now the chiefs 
held consultations with each other, and all agreec 
that the times of scarcity were on account of theii 
king Donald, and they resolved to offer him foi 
good seasons, and to assault and kill him, anc 
sprinkle the altar of the gods with his blood. Anc 
they did so." So again with Olaf the Tree-feller :j 
"There came dear times and famine, which thej 
ascribed to their king, as the Swedes used always] 
to reckon good or bad crops for or against theirj 
kings. The Swedes took it amiss that Olaf was] 
sparing in his sacrifices, and believed the dear times 

^ Snorro Sturlesson^ Heimskringla, Saga i. c. 18, 47. 

Bishop Hatto 459 

must proceed from this cause. The Swedes there- 
fore gathered together troops, made an expedition 
against King Olaf, surrounded his house, and burnt 
him in it, giving him to Odin as a sacrifice for 
good crops." 

Saxo Grammaticus says that in the reign of King 
Snio of Denmark there was a famine. The " Chro- 
nicon Regum Danicorum" tells a curious story about 
this Snio being devoured by vermin, sent to destroy 
him by his former master the giant Lae. Probably 
Snio was sacrificed, like Donald and Olaf, to obtain 
good harvests. 

The manner in which human sacrifices were 
made was very different. Sometimes the victims 
were precipitated off a rock, sometimes hung, at 
other times they were sunk in a bog. It seems 
probable to me that the manner in which an offer- 
ing was made for plenty, was by exposure to rats, 
just as M. Du Chaillu tells us, an African tribe 
place their criminals in the way of ants to be 
devoured by them. The peculiar death of Ragnar 
Lodbrog, who was sentenced by Ella of Northum- 
berland to be stung to death by serpents in a 
dungeon, was somewhat similar. Offerings to rats 
and mice are still prevalent among the peasantry 
in certain parts of Germany, if we may credit 

460 Bishop Hatto ^^^^H 

Grimm and Wolf; and this can only be a rel3 
of heathenism, for the significance of the act ij 
lost. I 

In Mark it is said that the Elves appear in Yuld 
tide as mice, and cakes are laid out for them. Ii 
Bohemia, on Christmas eve, the remainder of thi 
supper is given them with the words, "Mice! ed 
of these crumbs, and leave the wheat." 

If I am correct in supposing that the Hatt< 
myth points to sacrifices of chieftains and princd 
in times of famine, and that the manner of offerinl 
the sacrifice was the exposure of the victim to rata 
then it is not to be wondered at, that, when tld 
reason of such a sacrifice was forgotten, the deatj 
should be accounted as a judgment of God fd 
some crime committed by the sufferer, as hard 
heartedness, murder, or sacrilege. Both Giraldd 
Cambrensis and William of Malmesbury are, ho\J 
ever, sadly troubled to find a cause. I 

Rats and mice have generally been considerel 
sacred animals. Among the Scandinavian an( 
Teutonic peoples they were regarded as the souh 
of the dead. 

In the article on the Piper of Hameln, I mei 
tioned that Praetorius gives a story of a woman^ 
soul leaving her body in the shape of a red mous( 

Bishop Hatto 461 

According to Bohemian belief, one must not go to 
sleep thirsty, or the soul will leave the body in 
search of drink. Three labourers once lost their 
way in a wood. Parched with thirst, they sought, 
but in vain, for a spring of water. At last one 
of them lay down and fell asleep, but the others 
continuing their search, discovered a fountain. 
They drank, and then returned to their comrade. 
He still slept, and they observed a little white 
mouse run out of his mouth, go to the spring, 
drink, and return to his mouth. They woke him 
and said, " You are such an idle fellow, that instead 
of going yourself after water, you send your soul. 
We will have nothing more to do with you." 

A miller in the Black Forest, after having cut 
wood, lay down and slept. A servant saw a mouse 
run out of him. He and his companions went in 
pursuit. They scared the little creature away, 
little thinking it was the soul of the miller, and 
they were never able to rouse him again. Paulus 
Diaconus relates of King Gunthram that his soul 
left his body in the shape of a serpent ; and Hugh 
Miller, in his " Schools and Schoolmasters," tells a 
Scottish story of two companions, one of whom 
slept whilst the other watched. He who was awake 
saw a bee come out of the mouth of the sleeper, cross 

463 BisJiop Hatto 

a stream of water on a straw, run into a hole, and then 
return and disappear into the mouth of his friend. 
These are similar stories, but the bee and the 
serpent have taken the place of the mouse. The 
idea that the soul is like a mouse, lies at the root of 
several grotesque stories, as that told by Luther, 
in his ^*Table-Talk,"of a woman giving birth to a rat, 
and that of a mother harassed by the clamour of 
her children, wishing they were mice, and finding 
this inconsiderate wish literally fulfilled. 

The same idea has passed into Christian icon( 
graphy. According to the popular German belief 
the souls of the dead spend the first night afte^ 
they leave the body with S. Gertrude, the secon< 
with S. Michael, and the third in their destined 
habitation. S. Gertrude is regarded as the pa- 
troness of fleeting souls, the saint who is the 
first to shelter the spirits when they begin their 
wandering. As the patroness of souls, her sym- 
bol is a mouse. Various stories have been in- 
vented to account for this symbol. Some relate 
that a maiden span on her festival, and the mice 
ate through her clew as a punishment. A prettier 
story is that, when she prayed, she was so absorbed 
that the mice ran about her, and up her pastoral 
staff, without attracting; her attention. Another 

Bishop Hatto 463 

explanation is that the mouse is a symbol of the 
evil spirit, which S. Gertrude overcame ''. 

But S. Gertrude occupies the place of the ancient 
Teutonic goddess Holda or Perchta, who was the 
receiver of the souls of maidens and children, and 
who still exists as the White Lady, not unfre- 
quently, in German legends, transforming herself, 
or those whom she decoys into her home, into 
white mice. 

It is not unlikely that the saying, " Rats desert 
a falling house," applied originally to the crumbling 
ruin of the body from which the soul fled. 

In the Hatto and Popiel legends it is evident 
that the rats are the souls of those whom the Bishop 
and the King murdered. 

The rats of Bingen issue from the flames in 
which the poor people are being consumed. The 
same is said of the rats which devoured the Freiherr 
of Giittingen. The rats mira metainorpkosi come 
from the corpses of those poisoned by Popiel. 

There is a curious Icelandic story, written in the 
twelfth century, which bears a striking resemblance 
to those of Hatto, Widerolf, &c., but in which the 
rats make no appearance. 

* Die Attribute der Heiligen. Hanover, 1843, P- ii4- 

464 Bishop Hatto 

In the tenth century Iceland suffered severely 
from a bad year, so that there was a large amount 
of destitution throughout the country ; and, unless 
something were done by the wealthy bonders to 
relieve it, there was a certainty of many poor 
householders perishing during the approaching 
winter. Then Svathi, a heathen chief, stepped 
forward and undertook to provide for a consider- 
able number of sufferers. Accordingly, the pool 
starving wretches assembled at his door, and wer^ 
ordered by him to dig a large pit in his tun, oi 
home meadow. They complied with alacrity, and' 
in the evening they were gathered into a barn, th( 
door was locked upon them, and it was explainec 
to them that on the following morning they wen 
to be buried alive in the pit of their own digging. 

" You will at once perceive," said Svathi, " that if 
a number of you be put out of your misery, the 
number of mouths wanting food will be reduced, 
and there will be more victuals for those who 

There was truth in what Svathi said ; but the 
poor wretches did not view the matter in the same 
light as he, nor appreciate the force of his argu- 
ment ; and they spent the night howling with de- 
spair. Thorwald of Asi, a Christian, who happened 

Bishop Hatto 465 

to be riding by towards dawn, heard the outcries, 
and went to the barn to inquire into their signi- 
fication. When he learned the cause of their dis- 
tress, he liberated the prisoners, and bade them 
follow him to Asi. Before long, Svathi became 
aware that his victims had escaped, and set off in 
pursuit. However, he was unable to recover them, 
as Thorwald's men were armed, and the poor 
people were prepared to resist with the courage of 
despair. Thus the golden opportunity was lost, 
and he was obliged to return home, bewailing the 
failure of his scheme. As he dashed up to his 
house, blinded with rage, and regardless of what 
was before him, the horse fell with him into the pit 
which the poor folk had dug, and he was killed by 
the fall. He was buried in it next day, along with 
his horse and hound °. 

In all likelihood this Svathi was sacrificed in 
time of famine, and the legend may describe cor- 
rectly the manner in which he was offered to the 
gods, viz. by burial alive. 

In this story, as in Snorro's account of Donald, 

we have a sacrifice of human beings, taken from a 

low rank, offered first, and then the chief himself 


* Younger Dial's Saga Trv'gvas., cap. 225. 

H h 

466 Bishop Hatto 

The god to whom these human oblations were 
made, seems to have been Odin. In the " Herverar 
Saga" is an account of a famine in Jutland, to obtain 
rehef from which, the nobles and farmers consulted 
whom to sacrifice, and they decided that the king's 
son was the most illustrious person they could 
present to Odin. But the king, to save his son, 
fought with another king, and slew him and his 
son, and with their blood smeared the altar qf_ 
Odin, and thus appeased the god ^ 

Now, Odin was the receiver of the souls of m< 
as Freya, or the German Holda, took charge 
those of women. Odin appears as the wild hunt 
man, followed by a multitude of souls ; or, as 
Piper of Hameln, leading them into the mountain 
where he dwells. 

Freya, or Holda, leads an army of mice, ai 
Odin a multitude of rats. 

As a rat or soul god, it is not unlikely that sacri- 
fices to him may have been made by the placing 
of the victim on an island infested by water-rats, 
there to be devoured. The manner in which sacri- 
fices were made have generally some relation to 
the nature of the god to whom they were made. 

• Herverar Saga, cap. xi 



am I 

Bishop Hatto 467 

Thus, as Odin was a wind-god, men were hung in 
his honour. Most of the legends we are consi- 
dering point to islands as the place where the 
victim suffered, and islands, we know, were regarded 
with special sanctity by the Northern nations. 
Riigen and Heligoland in the sea were sacred from 
a remote antiquity, and probably lakes had as well 
their sacred islets, to which the victim was rowed 
out, his back broken, and on which he was left to 
become the prey of the rats. 

We find rats and mice regarded as sacred 
animals in other Aryan mythologies. Thus the 
mouse was the beast of the Indian Rudra. 

" This portion belongs to thee, O Rudra, with thy 
sister Ambika," is the wording of a prayer in the 
Yajur-Veda ; " may it please you. This portion be- 
longs to thee, O Rudra, whose animal is the moused" 
In later mythology it became the attribute of 
Ganeya, who was represented as riding upon a rat ; 
but Gane9a is simply an hypostasis for Rudra. 

Apollo was called Smintheus, as has been 
stated already. On some of the coins of Argos, 
in place of the god, is figured his symbol, the 
mouse ^ In the temple at Chrisa was a statue of 

' Yajur-Veda, iii. 57. 
8 Otfr. Miiller, Dorier, i. p. 285. 
H h '^ 

468 Bishop Hatto 

Apollo, with a mouse at his feet ^ ; and tame mice 
were kept as sacred to the god. In the Smintheion 
of Hamaxitus, white mice were fed as a solemn rite, 
and had their holes under the altar ; and near the 
tripod of Apollo was a representation of one 
these animals \ 

Among Semitic nations the mouse was als^ 

Herodotus gives a curious legend relating to the 
destruction of the host of Sennacherib before Jeru^ 
salem. Isaiah simply says, " Then the angel of th< 
Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of th< 
Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thoi 
sand: and when they arose early in the morning 
behold, they were all dead corpses^." How they 
were slain he does not specify, but as the army 
was threatened with a " hot blast," and a " destroy- 
ing wind," it is rendered probable that they were 
destroyed by a hot wind. But the story of Hero- 
dotus is very different. He received it from the 
Egyptian priests, who claimed the miracle, of which 
they had but an imperfect knowledge, for one of 
their gods, and transferred the entire event to their _ 

' Strabo, xiii. i. 

^ ^lian, Hist. Animal, xii. 15. 

^ Isa. xxxvii. 36. 

Bishop Hatto 469 

own country. "After Amyrtaeus reigned the 
priest of Vulcan, whose name was Sethon ; he held 
in no account and despised the military caste of 
the Egyptians, as not having need of their services ; 
and accordingly, among other indignities, he took 
away their lands ; to each of whom, under former 
kings, twelve chosen acres had been assigned. 
After this, Sennacherib, king of the Arabians and 
Assyrians, marched a large army against Egypt ; 
whereupon the Egyptian warriors refused to assist 
him ; and the priest being reduced to a strait, 
entered the temple, and bewailed before the image 
the calamities he was In danger of suffering. While 
he was lamenting, sleep fell upon him ; and It 
appeared to him In a vision that the god stood by 
and encouraged him, assuring him that he should 
suffer nothing disagreeable In meeting the Arabian 
army, for he would himself send assistants to him. 
Confiding In this vision, he took with him such 
of the Egyptians as were willing to follow him, and 
encamped In Pelusium, for there the entrance into 
Egypt Is ; but none of the military caste followed 
him, but tradesmen, mechanics, and sutlers. When 
they arrived there, a number of field-mice, pouring 
In upon their enemies, devoured their quivers and 
their bows, and, moreover, the handles of their 

470 Bishop Hatto 

shields ; so triat on the next day, when they fled 
bereft of their arms, many of them fell. And to 
this day, a stone statue of this king stands in the 
temple of Vulcan, with a mouse in his hand, and an 
inscription to the following effect : * Whoever looks 
on me, let him revere the gods ^.' " 

Among the Babylonians the mouse was sacrificed 
and eaten as a religious rite, but in connexion witl 
what god does not transpire ^ And the Philistines 
who, according to Hitzig, were a Pelasgic an< 
therefore Aryan race, after having suffered froi 
the retention of the ark, were told by their divine^ 
to "make images of your mice that mar the land, 
and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel. 
Therefore they made five golden mice as an offering 
to the Lord ^ This indicates the mouse as having" 
been the symbol among the Philistines of a deity 
whom they identified with the God of Israel. 

3 Herod. Euterpe, c. 141, Trans. Bohn. 

* Movers, Phonizier, i. p. 219. Cf. Isa. Ixvi. 17. 

* I Sam. vi. 4, 5. 



From Puce Gnuroh (Gironde). 

T^MMERICK, Count of Poitou, was a noble- 
^—^ man of great wealth, and eminent for his 
virtues. He had two children, a son named Ber- 
tram, and a daughter Blaniferte. In the great 
forest which stretched away in all directions around 
the knoll on which stood the town and castle of 
Poictiers, lived a Count de la Foret, related to 
Emmerick, but poor and with a large family. Out 
of compassion for his kinsman, the Count of Poitou 
adopted his youngest son Raymond, a beautiful 



and amiable youth, and made him his constai 
companion in hall and in the chase. One day tl 
Count and his retinue hunted a boar in the fon 
of Colombiers, and distancing his servants, Emmj 
rick found himself alone in the depths of the wo< 
with Raymond. The boar had escaped. Nig^ 
came on, and the two huntsmen lost their Wc 
They succeeded in lighting a fire, and were wan 
ing themselves over the blaze, when suddenly tl 
boar plunged out of the forest upon the Count, ai 
Raymond, snatching up his sword, struck at tl 
beast, but the blade glanced off and slew the Coui 
A second blow laid the boar at his side. Ra^ 
mond then with horror perceived that his friei 
and master was dead. In despair he mounted 
horse and fled, not knowing whither he went. 

Presently the boughs of the trees became h 
interlaced, and the trunks fewer ; next moment 
horse, crashing through the shrubs, brought him o^ 
on a pleasant glade, white with rime, and illumine 
by the new moon ; in the midst bubbled up 
limpid fountain, and flowed away over a pebj 
floor with a soothing murmur. Near the fountai^ 
head sat three maidens in glimmering white dresse 
with long waving golden hair, and faces of inei 
pressible beauty. 

Melusi7ia 473 

Raymond was riveted to the spot with astonish- 
ment. He believed that he saw a vision of angels, 
and would have prostrated himself at their feet, 
had not one of them advanced and stayed him. 
The lady inquired the cause of his manifest terror, 
and the young man, after a slight hesitation, told 
her of his dreadful misfortune. She listened with 
attention, and at the conclusion of his story, recom- 
mended him to remount his horse, and gallop out 
of the forest, and return to Poictiers, as though 
unconscious of what had taken place. All the 
huntsmen had that day lost themselves in the 
wood, and were returning singly, at intervals, to the 
castle, so that no suspicion would attach to him. 
The body of the count would be found, and from 
the proximity of the dead boar, it would be con- 
cluded that he had fallen before the tusk of the 
animal, to which he had given its death-blow. 

Relieved of his anxiety, Raymond was able to 
devote his attention exclusively to the beauty of 
the lady who addressed him, and found means to 
prolong the conversation till daybreak. He had 
never beheld charms equal to hers, and the suscep- 
tible heart of the youth was completely capti- 
vated by the fair unknown. Before he left her, he 
obtained from her a promise to be his. She then 

474 Melusi7ia 

told him to ask of his kinsman Bertram, as a gift, 
so much ground around the fountain where they 
had met, as could be covered by a stag's hide 
upon this ground she undertook to erect a magni] 
ficent palace. Her name, she told him, was Melui 
sina ; she was a water-fay of great power an( 
wealth. His she consented to be, but subject t( 
one condition, that her Saturdays might be spent ii 
a complete seclusion, upon which he should nev€ 
venture to intrude. 

Raymond then left her, and followed her advice 
to the letter. Bertram, who succeeded his fathei 
readily granted the land he asked for, but was no^ 
a little vexed, when he found that, by cutting 
the hide into threads, Raymond had succeede( 
in making it include a considerable area. 

Raymond then invited the young count to hi< 
wedding, and the marriage festivities took plac< 
with unusual splendour, in the magnificent castle 
erected by Melusina. On the evening of the mar4 
riage, the bride, with tears in her beautiful eyesj 
implored her husband on no account to attempt ai 
intrusion on her privacy upon Saturdays, for sucl 
an intrusion must infallibly separate them for ever^ 
The enamoured Raymond readily swore to stricth 
observe her wishes in this matter. 

Melusina 475 

Melusina continued to extend the castle, and 
strengthen its fortifications, till the like was not to 
be seen in all the country round. On its com- 
pletion she named it after herself Lusinia, a name 
which has been corrupted into Lusignan, which 
it bears to this day. 

In course of time, the Lady of Lusignan gave 
birth to a son, who was baptized Urian. He was 
a strangely shaped child : his mouth was large, his 
ears pendulous ; one of his eyes was red, the other 

A twelvemonth later she gave birth to another 
son, whom she called Gedes ; he had a face which 
was scarlet. In thank-offering for his birth she 
erected and endowed the convent of Malliers ; and, 
as a place of residence for her child, built the 
strong castle of Favent. 

Melusina then bore a third son, who was chris- 
tened Gyot. He was a fine, handsome child, but 
one of his eyes was higher up in his face than the 
other. For him his mother built La Rochelle. 

Her next son Anthony, had long claws on his 
fingers, and was covered with hair ; the next again 
had but a single eye. The sixth was Geofifry with 
the Tooth, so called from a boar's tusk which 
protruded from his jaw. Other children she had. 

476 MeliLsina 

but all were in some way disfigured and mon- 

Years passed, and the love of Raymond for his 
beautiful wife never languished. Every Saturday 
she left him, and spent the twenty-four hours in 
the strictest seclusion, without her husband thinl 
ing of intruding on her privac}^ The childn 
grew up to be great heroes and illustrious warrioi 
One, Freimund, entered the Church, and became 
pious monk, in the abbey of Malliers. The age 
Count de la Foret and the brothers of Raymoi 
shared in his good fortune, and the old man spei 
his last years in the castle with his son, whilst tl 
brothers were furnished with money and scrvanl 
suitable to their rank. 

One Saturday, the old father inquired at dinn< 
after his daughter-in-law. Raymond replied thj 
she was not visible on Saturdays. Thereupon onj 
of his brothers, drawing him aside, whispered th< 
strange gossiping tales were about relative to th^ 
sabbath seclusion, and that it behoved him to in* 
quire into it, and set the minds of people at rest. 
Full of wrath and anxiety, the count rushed off to 
the private apartments of the countess, but found 
them empty. One door alone was locked, and that 
opened into a bath. He looked through the key- 

Mchisina 477 

hole, and to his dismay beheld her in the water, 
her lower extremities changed into the tail of a 
monstrous fish or serpent. 

Silently he withdrew. No word of what he had 
seen passed his lips ; it was not loathing that filled 
his heart, but anguish at the thought that by his 
fault he must lose the beautiful wife who had been 
the charm and glory of his life. Some time passed 
by, however, and Melusina gave no token of con- 
sciousness that she had been observed during the 
period of her transformation. But one day news 
reached the castle that Geoffry with the Tooth had 
attacked the monastery of Malliers, and burned it ; 
and that in the flames had perished Freimund, with 
the abbot and a hundred monks. On hearing of this 
disaster, the poor father, in a paroxysm of misery, 
exclaimed, as Melusina approached to comfort him, 
"Away, odious serpent, contaminator of my honour- 
able race !" 

At these words she fainted ; and Raymond, full 
of sorrow for having spoken thus intemperately, 
strove to revive her. When she came to herself 
again, with streaming tears she kissed and embraced 
him for the last time. " O husband !" she said, " I 
leave two little ones in their cradle; look tenderly 
after them, bereaved of their mother. And now 

478 Mehisina 

farewell for ever ! yet know that thou, and those 
who succeed thee, shall see me hover over this fair 
castle of Lusignan, whenever a new lord is to come." 
And with a long wail of agony she swept from the 
window, leaving the impression of her foot on the 
stone she last touched. 

The children in arms she had left were Die- 
trich and Raymond. At night, the nurses be 
held a glimmering figure appear near the cradle 
of the babes, most like the vanished countess, b 
from her waist downwards terminating in a seal; 
fish-tail enamelled blue and white. At her approacK 
the little ones extended their arms and smiled, and 
she took them to her breast and suckled them ; 
but as the grey dawn stole in at the casement, she 
vanished, and the children's cries told the nurses 
that their mother was gone. 

Long was it believed in France that the unfortu- 
nate Melusina appeared in the air, wailing over the 
ramparts of Lusignan before the death of one of its 
lords ; and that, on the extinction of the family, she 
was seen whenever a king of France was to depart 
this life. Mezeray informs us that he was assured 
of the truth of the appearance of Melusina on the 
old tower of Lusignan, previous to the death of 
one of her descendants, or of a king of France, by 


Melusina 479 

people of reputation, and who were not by any 
means credulous. She appeared in a mourning 
dress, and continued for a long time to utter the 
most heart-rending lamentations, 

Brantome, in his eulogium on the Duke of Mont- 
pensier, who in 1574 destroyed Lusignan, a Hugue- 
not retreat, says : 

"I heard, more than forty years ago, an old 
veteran say, that when the Emperor Charles V. came 
to France, they brought him by Lusignan for 
the sake of the recreation of hunting the deer, 
which were then in great abundance in the fine 
old parks of France; that he was never tired of 
admiring and praising the beauty, the size, and the 
chef d'oeuvre of that house, built, which is more, by 
such a lady, of whom he made them tell him several 
fabulous tales, which are there quite common, even 
to the good old women who washed their linen at 
the fountains, whom Queen Catherine de Medicis, 
mother of the king, would also question and 
listen to. Some told her that they used some- 
times to see her come to the fountain, to bathe in it, 
in the form of a most beautiful woman and in 
the dress of a widow. Others said that they used 
to see her, but very rarely, and that on Saturday 
evening (for in that state she did not let herself be 

480 Mehisina 

seen), bathing, half her body being that of a very 
beautiful lady, the other half ending in a snake ; 
others, that she used to appear a-top of the great 
tower in a very beautiful form, and as a snake. Some 
said, that when any great disaster was to come on 
the kingdom, or a change of reign, or a death, or 
misfortune among her relatives, who were the great- 
est people of France, and were kings, that thre^ 
days before she was heard to cry, with a cry mos 
shrill and terrible, three times. 

" This is held to be perfectly true. Several persoi 
of that place, who have heard it, are positive of \\ 
and hand it from father to son ; and say that, evf 
when the siege came on, many soldiers and men 
honour, who were there, affirmed it. But it was 
when order was given to throw down and destroy 
her castles, that she uttered her loudest cries and 
wails. Since then she has not been heard. Some 
old wives, however, say she has appeared to them, 
but very rarely \" 

In 1387, Jean d' Arras, secretary to the Duke of 
Berry, received orders from his master to collect all 
information attainable with reference to Melusina, 
probably for the entertainment of the sister of the 

* Keightley's Fairy Mythology, i860, pp. 483, 484. 

Melusina 481 

duke, the Countess de Bar. This he did, making con- 
siderable use of a history of the mysterious lady, 
written " by one of the race of Lusinia, William de 
Portenach (qu. Partenope), in Italian." This history 
if it ever existed, has not come down to us ; the 
work of Jean d' Arras is a complete romance. Ac- 
cording to him, Helmas, king of Albania (Scotland, 
or, as the German popular versions have it, Nord- 
land), married a fay named Pressina, whom he found 
singing beside a fountain. She became his, after 
having exacted from him an oath never to visit her 
during her lying-in. She gave birth to three little 
girls at once, Melusina, Melior, and Plantina. A 
son of Helmas by a former wife hurried to his 
father with the joyful news, and the king, oblivious 
of his promise, rushed to his wife and found her 
bathing her three children. Pressina, on seeing him, 
exclaimed against his forgetfulness, and, taking her 
babes in her arms, vanished. She brought up the 
daughters until they were fifteen, when she unfolded 
to them the story of their father's breach of promise, 
and Melusina, the youngest, determined on revenge. 
She, in concert with her sisters, caught King Helmas 
and chained him in the heart of a mountain called 
Avalon, or, in the German books, Brunbelois, in 
Northubelon, i.e. Northumberland. At this unfilial 

I i 

482 Melushia 

act, the mother was so indignant, that she sentenced 
her daughter Melusina to spend the sabbath in a 
semi-fish form, till she should marry one who 
would never inquire into what became of her on 
that day. Jean d' Arras relates that Serville, who 
defended Lusignan for the English against the 
Duke de Berry, swore to that prince upon his faith 
and honour, "that three days before the surrend^ 
of the castle, there entered into his chamber, thou| 
the doors were shut, a large serpent, enamelled bl^ 
and white, which struck its tail several times agaii 
the foot of the bed whereon he was lying with 
wife, who was not at all frightened at it, thouj 
he was very considerably so ; and that when 
seized his sword, the serpent changed all at on^ 
into a woman, and said to him : * How, Servil| 
you, who have been in so many battles and sieg< 
are you afraid ? Know that I am the mistress of tl 
castle, which I erected, and that soon you will hal 
to surrender it ! ' When she had ended these words, 
she resumed her serpent-shape, and glided away 
so swiftly that he could not perceive her." 

Stephan, a Dominican, of the house of Lusignan, 
developed the work of Jean d'Arras, and made the 
story so famous, that the families of Luxembourg, 
Rohan, and Sassenaye altered their pedigrees so as 

Melusina 483 

to be able to claim descent from the illustrious 
Melusina^; and the Emperor Henry VII. felt no 
little pride in being able to number the beautiful 
and mysterious lady among his ancestors. "It 
does not escape me," writes the chronicler Conrad 
Vecerius, in his life of that emperor, "to report 
what is related in a little work in the vernacular, 
concerning the acts of a woman, Melyssina, on one 
day of the week becoming a serpent from her 
middle downwards, whom they reckon among the 

ancestors of Henry VII But, as authors 

relate, that in a certain island of the ocean, there 
are nine Sirens endowed with various arts, such, 
for instance, as changing themselves into any shape 
they like, it is no absurd conjecture to suppose that 
Melyssina came thence ^" 

The story became immensely popular in France, 
in Germany, and in Spain, and was printed and 
reprinted. The following are some of the principal 
early editions of it. 

Jean d'Arras, " Le liure de Melusine en fracoys ;" 
Geneva, 1478. The same, Lyons and Paris, with- 
out date ; Lyons, 4to, 1500, and again 1544 ; 

" Bullet, Dissertat. sur la Mythologie Fran^aise. Paris, 
1771, pp. 1—32. 
^ Urstisius, Scriptores Germanias. Frankfort 1670. 

I i 2 

484 Memsma 

Troyes, 4to, no date. " L'histoire de Melusine fille 
du roy d'Albanie et de dame Pressine, revue et 
mise en meilleur langage que par cy devant ;" 
Lyons, 1597. " Le roman de Melusine, princesse de 
Lusignan, avec l'histoire de Geoffry, surnomme k 
la Grand Dent," par Nodot; Paris, 1700. An outline 
of the story in the " Bibliotheque des Romani^H 
1775, T. 11. A Spanish version, " Historia de l^^ 
linda Melosyna ;" Tolosa, 1489. " La hystoria 
la linda Melosina ;" Sevilla, 1526. A Dutch tra 
lation, " Een san sonderlingke schone ende wond 
like historie, die men warachtich kout te s 
ende autentick sprekende van eenre vrouwi 
gheheeten Melusine ;" Tantwerpen, 1500. A Boh 
mian version, probably translated from the Germ 
" Kronyke Kratochwilne, o ctne a slech netne Pan: 
Meluzijne ;" Prag, 1760, 1764, 1805. A Danish v 
sion, made about 1579, " Melusine ;" Copenhagi 
1667, 1702, 1729. One in Swedish, without date. 
The original of these three last was the " History 
of Melusina," by Thiiring von Ringoltingen, pub- 
lished in 1456 ; Augsburg, 1474 ; Strasburg, 1478. 
" Melosine-Geschicht," illustrated with woodcuts ; 
Heidelberg, 1491. "Die Historia von Melusina;" 
Strasburg, 1506. " Die Histori oder Geschicht 
von der edle und schonen Melusina ;" Augsburg, 

Mehisina 485 

1547; Strasburg, 1577, i<524. "Wunderbare Ge- 
schichte von der edeln und schonen Melusina, welche 
eine Tochter des Konigs Helmus und ein Meer- 
wunder gewesen ist ;" Nurnberg, without date ; re- 
'printed in Marbach's " Volksbiicher." Leipzig, 1838. 

In the fable of Melusina, there are several points 
deserving of consideration, as — the framework of 
the story, the half-serpent or fish-shape of Melu- 
sina, and her appearances as warnings of impend- 
ing misfortune or death. The minor details, as, for 
instance, the trick with the hide, which is taken 
from the story of Dido, shall not detain us. 

The framework of the myth is the story-radical 
corresponding with that of Lohengrin. The skeleton 
of the romance is this — 

1. A man falls in love with a woman of super- 
natural race. 

2. She consents to live with him, subject to one 

3. He breaks the condition and loses her. 

4. He seeks her, and — a. recovers her ; y8. never 
recovers her. 

In the story before us, the last item has dropped 
out, but it exists in many other stories which have 
sprung from the same root. The beautiful legend 
of Undine is but another version of the same 



story. A young knight marries a water-spr3 
and promises never to be false to her, and nei 
to bring her near a river. He breaks his enga^ 
ment, and loses her. Then she comes to him 
the eve of his second marriage and kisses him 
death. Fouque's inimitable romance is foundj 
on the story as told by Theophrastus Paracelsus] 
his " Treatise on Elemental Sprites ;" but the b< 
bones of the myth related by the philosopher hj 
been quickened into life and beauty by the heave 
drawn spark of poetry wherewith Fouque 
endowed them. 

In the French tale, Melusina seeks union 
a mortal solely that she may escape from 
enchantment ; but in the German more earnest 
tale. Undine desires to become a bride that she 
may obtain an immortal soul. The corresponding 
Danish story is told by Hans Christian Andersen. 
A little mermaid sees a prince as she floats on tl 
surface of the sea, and saves him in her arms from 
drowning when the ship is wrecked. But from that 
hour her heart is filled with yearning love for the 
youth whose life she has preserved. She seeks 
earth of her own free will, leaving her native 
element, although the consequence is pain at ev( 
step she takes. 

Melusina 487 

She becomes the constant attendant of the 
prince, till he marries a princess, when her heart 
breaks and she becomes a Light-Elf, with prospect 
of immortality. 

Belonging to the same family is the pretty 
Indian tale of Urva9i. Urva9i was an " apsaras," 
or heavenly maiden ; she loved Puravaras, a martial 
king, and became his wife, only, however, on con- 
dition that she should never behold him without 
his clothes. For some years they were together, 
till the heavenly companions of Urva9i determined 
to secure her return to her proper sphere. They 
accordingly beguiled Puravaras into leaving his 
bed in the darkness of night, and then, with a 
lightning-flash, they disclosed him in his nudity 
to the wife, who was thereupon constrained to 
leave him. A somewhat similar story is told, in 
the Katha Sarit Sagara (Book iii. c. i8), of Vidu- 
shaka, who loves and marries a beautiful Bhadra, 
but after a while she vanishes, leaving behind her 
a ring. The inconsolable husband wanders in 
search of her, and reaching the heavenly land, drops 
the ring in a goblet of water, which is taken to 
her. By this she recognizes him, and they are 

The legend of Melusina, as it comes to us, is by 



no means In its original condition. Jean d'Arn 
or other romancers, have considerably altered 
simple tale, so as to make it assume the prop( 
tions of a romance. All that story of the fa 
Pressina, and her marriage with King Helmas, 
but another version of the same story as Melusinj 
Helmas finds Pressina near a fountain, and asl 
her to be his ; she consents on condition that 
does not visit her during her lying-in ; he breaks 
the condition and loses her. This is the same 
Raymond discovering Melusina near a spring, ai 
obtaining her hand subject to the condition that 
will not visit her one day of the week. Lil 
Helmas, he breaks his promise and loses his wii 
That both Pressina and Melusina are water-sprit< 
or nymphs, is unquestionable ; both haunt a foul 
tain, and the transformation of the lady 
Lusignan indicates her aquatic origin. As Grimi 
has observed'', this is a Gallic, and therefore 
Keltic myth, an opinion confirmed by the Bansh< 
part played by the unfortunate nymph. For tl 
Banshee superstition has no corresponding featui 
in Scandinavian, Teutonic, or Classic mytholo^ 
and belongs entirely to the Kelts. Among othej 

^ Deutsche Mythologie, i. 405. 

Melusina 489 

there are death portents, but not, that I am aware 
of, spirits of women attached to famihes, by their 
bitter cries at night announcing the approach of 
the king of terrors. 

The Irish Banshee is thus described: "We saw 
the figure of a tall, thin woman with uncovered 
head, and long hair that floated round her shoul- 
ders, attired in something which seemed either a 
loose white cloak or a sheet thrown hastily about 
her, uttering piercing cries. 

" The most remarkable instance (of the Banshee) 
occurs in the MS memoirs of Lady Fanshawe, so 
exemplary for her conjugal affection. Her husband. 
Sir Richard, and she chanced, during their abode 
in Ireland, to visit a friend, the head of a sept, 
who resided in an ancient baronial castle sur- 
rounded with a moat. At midnight she was 
awakened by a ghastly and supernatural scream, 
and looking out of bed, beheld in the moonlight 
a female face and part of the form hovering at the 
window. The face was that of a young and rather 
handsome woman, but pale, and the hair, which 
was reddish, loose and dishevelled. The dress, 
which Lady Fanshawe's terror did not prevent her 
remarking accurately, was that of the ancient 
Irish. This apparition continued to exhibit itself 

490 Melusina 

for some time, and then vanished, with two shrieks 
similar to that which had first excited Lady 
Fanshawe's attention. In the morning, with infinite 
terror, she communicated to her host what she 
had witnessed, and found him prepared, not only 
to credit, but to account for the apparition : — 

" 'A near relation of my family,* said he, ' expired^ 
last night in this castle. We disguised our certaii 
expectations of the event from you, lest it shoulc 
throw a cloud over the cheerful reception whicl 
was your due". Now, before such an evenj 
happens in this family and castle, the femal^ 
spectre whom ye have seen always is visible : sh^ 
is believed to be the spirit of a woman of inferio^ 
rank, whom one of my ancestors degraded himselj 
by marrying, and whom afterwards, to expiate the 
dishonour done to his family, he caused to b< 
drowned in the castle moat' " 

A very remarkable story of the Banshee is giver 
by Mr. Crofton Croker. The Rev. Charles Bun-" 
worth was rector of Buttevant, in the county Cork, 
about the middle of last century. He was famous 
for his performance on the national instrument, the 

^ Like Admetus in the Alcestis of Euripides. This story 
of Lady Fanshawe is from a note to "The Lady of the 

Melusina 491 

Irish harp, and for his hospitable reception and 
entertainment of the poor harpers who travelled 
from house to house about the country ; and in 
his granary were deposited fifteen harps, be- 
queathed to him by the last members of a race 
which has now ceased to exist. 

The circumstances attending the death of Mr. 
Bunworth were remarkable ; but, says Mr. Crofton 
Croker, there are still living credible witnesses who 
declare their authenticity, and who can be produced 
to attest most, if not all, of the following particulars. 
Shortly before his decease, a shepherd heard the 
Banshee keening and clapping her hands under a 
lightning-struck tree near the house. On the eve of his 
death the night was serene and moonlit, and nothing 
broke the stillness of the melancholy watch kept by 
the bedside of the sick man, who lay in the drawing- 
room, by his two daughters. The little party were 
suddenly roused by a sound at the window near 
the bed : a rose-tree grew outside the window, so 
closely as to touch the glass ; this was forced aside 
with some noise, and a low moaning was heard, ac- 
companied by clapping of hands, as if of some 
female in deep affliction. It seemed as if the 
sound proceeded from a person holding her 
mouth close to the window. The lady who 

492 Mehisina 

sat by the bedside of Mr. Bunworth went into 
the adjoining room, where sat some male rela- 
tives, and asked, in a tone of alarm, if they had 
heard the Banshee. Sceptical of supernatural 
appearances, two of them rose hastily, and went 
out to discover the cause of these sounds, which 
they also distinctly heard. They walked all rounj 
the house, examining every spot of grounc 
particularly near the window from whence tl 
voice had proceeded ; the bed of earth beneatl 
in which the rose-tree was planted, had be( 
recently dug, and the print of a footstep — if tl 
tree had been forced aside by mortal hand — ^woul^ 
have inevitably remained ; but they could percei) 
no such impression, and an unbroken stillnes 
reigned without. Hoping to dispel the mystei 
they continued their search anxiously along tl 
road, from the straightness of which, and the light 
ness of the night, they were enabled to see some dij 
tance around them ; but all was silent and desertec 
and they returned surprised and disappointec 
How much more then were they astonished at 
learning that, the whole time of their absence, those 
who remained within the house had heard the 
moaning and clapping of hands even louder and 
more distinct than before they had gone out ; and 

Melasma 493 

no sooner was the door of the room closed on 
them^ than they again heard the same mournful 
sounds. Every succeeding hour the sick man be- 
came worse, and when the fxrst glimpse of the 
morning appeared, Mr. Bunworth expired. 

The Banshee is represented in Wales by the 
Gwrach y Rhibyn, who is said to come after dusk, 
and flap her leathern wings against the window, 
giving warning of death, in a broken, howl- 
ing tone, and calling on the one who is to quit 
mortality by his or her name several times. In 
Brittany, similar spirits are called Bandrhudes, and 
are attached to several of the ancient families. In 
other parts of France, they pass as Dames 
Blanches, who, however, are not to be confused with 
the Teutonic white ladies, which are spirits of a 
different order. 

But, putting the Banshee part of the story of 
Melusina on one side, let us turn to the semi-fish or 
serpent form of Melusina. Jean d' Arras attributes 
this to a curse pronounced on her by the fay 
Pressina, but this is an invention of his own ; the 
true conception of Melusina he did not grasp, and 
was therefore obliged to forge a legend which should 
account for her peculiar appearance. Melusina was 
a mermaid. Her presence beside the fountain, as 



well as her fishy tail, indicate her nature ; she was 
not, perhaps, a native of the sea, but a stream- 
dweller, and therefore as closely related to the tru( 
mermaid of the briny deep as are the fresh-watei 
fish to those of the salt sea. 

The superstitious belief in mermaids is universal^ 
and I frankly confess my inability to account 
for its origin in every case. In some particulai 
cases the origin of the myth is clear, in others it if 
not so. Let me take one which can be explainec 
— the Cannes of the Chaldaeans, the Philistin< 

Cannes and Dag-on (the fish Cn) are identical.^ 
According to an ancient fable preserved by Berosus, 
a creature half man and half fish came out of " that 
part of the Erythraean sea which borders upoi 
Babylonia," where he taught men the arts of lifej 
" to construct cities, to found temples, to compile 
laws, and, in short, instructed them in all things 
that tend to soften manners and humanize theii 
lives ;" and he adds that a representation of this 
animal Cannes was preserved in his day. A figure 
of him sporting in the waves, and apparently bless- 
ing a fleet of vessels, was discovered in a marin( 
piece of sculpture, by M. Botta, in the excavations 
of Khorsabad. 

Melnsina i95 

Oannea, Trom Khorsatad. 

At Nimroud, a gigantic image was found by 
Mr. Layard, representing him with the fish's head 
as a cap and the body of the fish depending 
over his shoulders, his legs those of a man, in 
his left hand holding a richly decorated bag, 
and his right hand upraised, as if in the act of pre- 
senting the mystic Assyrian fir-cone (British 
Museum, Nos. 29 and 30). 

This Oannes is the Mizraimite On, and the 
Hebrew Aon, with a Greek case-termination, derived 
from a root signifying " to illumine." Aon was the 
original name of the god reverenced in the temple 
of Heliopolis, which in Scripture is called Beth- Aon, 
the house of On, as well as by its translation Beth- 
Shemesh, the house of the Sun. Not only does his 
name indicate his solar origin, but his representa- 
tion with horned head-dress testifies to his nature. 
Ammon, Apis, Dionysos are sun-gods ; Isis, lo. 

496 Melusina 

Artemis are moon-goddesses, and are all hornec 
Indeed, in ancient iconography horns invariably 
connect the gods represented with the two greai 
sources of light. Apparent exceptions, such as the_ 
Fauns, are not so in reality, when subjected t( 
close scrutiny. Civilizing gods, who diffuse intelli] 
gence and instruct barbarians, are also solar deitief 
as the Egyptian Osiris, the Nabathaean Tammu: 
the Greek Apollo, and the Mexican Quetzalcoatl 
beside these Cannes takes his place, as the sun-goc 
giving knowledge and civilization. According t< 

A Babylonish seal in the British Museum, from Munter's Bahylonier. 

the fable related by Berosus, he came on earth eacl 
morning, and at evening plunged into the sea 
this is a mythical description of the rising am 
setting of the sun. His semi-piscine form was 
expression of the idea that half his time was spen^ 
above ground, and half below the waves. 

Melusina 497 

In precisely similar manner the Semitic moon- 
goddess, who followed the course of the sun, at 
times manifesting herself to the eyes of men, at 
others seeking concealment in the western flood 
was represented as half woman, half fish, with 
characteristics which make her lunar origin in- 
disputable. Her name was Derceto or Atergatis. 
On the coins of Ascalon, where she was held in 
great honour, is figured a goddess above whose 
head is a half-moon, and at her feet a woman with 
her lower extremities like a fish. This is Semi- 
ramis, who, according to a popular legend, was the 
child of Derceto. At Joppa she appears as a 
mermaid. The story was, that she fled from 
Typhon, and plunged into the sea, concealing 
herself under the form of a fish. According to 
Plutarch, the Syrian Tirgata, the Derceto of 
Palestine, was the goddess of moisture ^ ; and 
Lucan (De dea Syra, c. 14) declares that she was 
represented as a woman with a fish-tail from her 
hips downward. 

In every mythology, the different attributes of 

^ Plutarch, Crass, c. 17. According to Greek mythology, 
this goddess, under the name of Ceto, " with comely cheeks," 
is the daughter of Sea and Earth, and wife of Phorcys 
(Hesiod, Theog. v. 235. 270). 

K k 



the deity in process of time became distinct go( 
yet with sufficient impress of their origin still upc 
them to make that origin easy to be detected. 

As On, the sun-god rising and setting in the se^ 
was supplied with a corresponding moon-goddes 
Atergatis, and Bel or Baal, also a solar deity, h* 
his lunar Baalti, so the fiery Moloch, "the greal 
lord," was supphed with his Mylitta, "the birtl 
producer." Moloch was the fierce flame-god, ai 
Mylitta the goddess of moisture. Their worshj 
was closely united. The priests of Moloch woi 
female attire, the priestesses of Mylitta wei 
dressed like men. Human sacrifices characteriz( 
the worship of the fire-god, prostitution that 
the goddess of water. From her came the nam< 
of the hetarae Melitta, Meleto, Milto, Milesj 
(Athenaeus, lib. xiii.). Among the Carthaginiai 
this goddess was worshipped, as appears from th( 
giving the name of Magasmelita (the tent 
Mylitta) to one of the African provinces. Mylit^ 
was identical with Atergatis ; she was regarded 
a universal mother, a source of life. 

In Greece, the priestesses of Demeter wei 
called Melissae, the high-priest of Apollo w£ 
entitled Kvpio^ rSiv fieWia-aMu. A fable was ii 
vented to account for this name, and to conne< 

Melusina 499 

them with bees and honey ; but I have little doubt 
that it was corrupted from the Semitic designation 
of the servants of Mylitta. The Melissae are some- 
times spoken of as nymphs, but are not to be 
identified with the Meliadae, Dryads sprung from 
the ash. Yet Melia, daughter of Oceanus, who 
plunges into the Haliacmon, strongly resembles 
the Syrian goddess. Selene, the moon, was also 
known by the name Melissa. KciX ra^ Arjfji7]Tpo^ 
lepeta^;, ct)9 rr}? ')(6ovLa<^ Oea^; /jLvaTiSa<;, fxeklaaa^ ol 
TraXatol iKoXovv, avrrjv re rrjv Koprjv /jl6\l(TO-(o&]], 
^ekrjvv^v T€, ovcrav ryevecreQ3<; TrpoaraTlBa /xeXcaaav 
iKoXovv "^ . 

When we remember the double character of 
Mylitta, as a generative or all-mother, and as a 
moon-goddess, we are able to account for her 
name having passed into the Greek titles of 
priestesses of their corresponding goddesses De- 
meter and Selene. 

The name Melissa was probably introduced into 
Gaul by the Phocian colony at Massilia, the modern 
Marseilles, and passed into the popular mythology 
of the Gallic Kelts as the title of nymphs, till it was 
finally appropriated by the Melusina of romance. 

7 Schol. Theocr. xv. 94. Porphyr. de Antro Nymph. 
c. 18. 

K k 2 

500 Mehisina 

It may seem difficult at first sight to trace the 
connexion between the moon, a water-goddess, 
and a deity presiding over childbirth ; yet it is 
certain that such a connexion does exist. The 
classic Venus was born of the sea-foam, and wa^ 
unmistakably one with the moon. She was alj 
the goddess of love, and was resorted to by barn 
women — as the Venus of Quimperle in Brittai 
is, to this day, sought by those who have 

On the Syrian coast, they told of their godd* 
plunging into the sea, because they saw the mo< 
descend into the western waters ; but the Cretai 
who beheld her rise above the eastern horizon 
sea, fabled of a foam-born goddess. 

In classic iconography the Tritons, and 
later art the Sirens, are represented half fish, he 
human. Originally the Sirens were winged, h\ 
after the fable had been accepted, which told 
their strife with the Muses, and their precipitatic 
into the sea, they were figured like mermaids ; tl 
fish-form was by them borrowed from Derceto. 
is curious how widely-spread is the belief in fish- 
women. The prevalence of tales of mermaids 
among Celtic populations indicates these water- 
nymphs as having been originally deities of those 

Meliisina 501 

peoples ; and I cannot but believe that the circular 
mirror they are usually represented as holding is 
a reminiscence of the moon-disk. Bothe, in his 
" Kronecke der Sassen," in 1492, described a god, 
Krodo, worshipped in the Hartz, who was repre- 
sented with his feet on a fish, a wheel to symbolize 
the moon in one hand, and a pail of water in the 
other. As among the Northern nations the moon 
is masculine, its deity was male. Probably the 
Mexican Coxcox or Teocipactli (i.e. Fish-god) was 
either a solar or lunar deity. He was entitled 
Huehueton-acateo-cateo-cipatli, or Fish-god-of-our- 
flesh, to give him his name in full ; he somewhat 
resembled the Noah of Sacred Writ ; for the Mexi- 
can fable related, that in a great time of flood, 
when the earth was covered with water, he rescued 
himself in a cypress trunk, and peopled the world 
with wise and intelligent beings *". The Babylonish 
Oannes was also identified with the flood. 

The Peruvians had likewise their semi-fish gods, 
but the legend connected with them has not 
descended to our days. 

The North-American Indians relate that they 
were conducted from Northern Asia by a man-fish. 

8 M tiller, Geschichte der Amerikanischen Urreligionen. 
Basel, 1855, p. 515. 

502 Melusina 

" Once upon a time, in the season of opening buds, 
the people of our nation were much terrified at 
seeing a strange creature, much resembling a man, 
riding upon the waves. He had upon his head 
long green hair, much resembling the coarse weeds 
which the mighty storms scatter along the margin 
of the strand. Upon his face, which was shape 
like that of a porpoise, he had a beard of the sai 
colour. But if our people were frightened 
seeing a man who could live in the water like 
fish or a duck, how much more were they fright 
ened when they saw that from his breast do^ 
he was actually a fish, or rather two fishes, fol 
each of his legs was a whole and distinct fisl 
And there he would sit for hours singing to tl 
wondering ears of the Indians the beautiful thin^ 
he saw in the depths of the ocean, always closii 
his strange stories with these words : — * Follow m< 
and see what I will show you.' For a great 
many suns, they dared not venture upon the water ; 
but when they grew hungry, they at last put to 
sea, and following the man-fish, who kept close to 
the boat, reached the American coast ^" 

It is not impossible that the North-American 

^ Epitomized from Traditions of the North- American In- 
dians, by J. A. Jones. 1830, pp. 47 — 58. 

Melusina 503 

Indians may have symbolized the sun in the same 
manner as the Syrians, and that this legend may 
signify that the early colonists, to reach the New 
Land, followed the ^f^/^-course of the sun, which 
as man goes from East to West, whereas when it 
dives it swims from West to East, the course 
taken by the Indians in their canoes. The wan- 
derers in the Canadian forests have also their 
fish-woman, of whom a tale is related which bears 
a lively resemblance to that of Undine, and which 
is not a Httle like that of Melusina. 

One day an Ottawa chief, whilst sitting by the 
water side, beheld a beautiful woman rise from the 
flood, her face exquisitely lovely, her eyes blue, 
her teeth white, and her locks floating over her 
shoulders. From her waist downwards she was 
fish, or rather two fishes. She entreated the 
warrior to permit her to live on earth, as she 
desired to win a human soul, which could only be 
acquired by union with a mortal He consented 
and took her to his house, where she was to him 
as a daughter. Some years after an Andirondack 
youth beheld and loved her. He took her to wife, 
and she obtained that which she had desired — a 
human soul. 

In the Undine story, a water-maiden, in like 



manner and for a like object, is adopted by an o! 
fisherman,, and becomes the bride of a youth 
German knight. But the Andirondack tribe w, 
ill-pleased at the marriage of their chief with t 
mysterious damsel, and they tore her from 
arms, and drove her back to her original eleme 
Then all the water-spirits vowed revenge at t 
insult offered to one of their race ; they stirred 
war between the Ottawas and Andirondacks, which 
led to the extermination of the latter ; one on 
was rescued, and he was grasped by the fish-wi 
and by her borne down to the watery dep 
below the Falls of S. Anthony. In the Germ 
story, the husband is weary with the taunts 
those around at having married a water-sprite, a 
bids her return to her element. Then the spirij 
of the flood vow his destruction, and send Und 
on earth to embrace her faithless lord, and ki 
him to death. The name of the fish-woman is 
German Meerfrau or Meriminni ; in Danish, t 
Siren is Maremind ; and in Icelandic and ol 
Norse, Marmennill ; in Irish she is the Merrow ; 
with the Breton peasantry she is Marie-Morga 
In the legendary lore of all these people, there 
stories of the loves of a mortal man and a me: 
maid. According to Mr. Crofton Croker, O'SuUiv 



Melusina 505 

More, Lord of Dunkerron, lost his heart to one of 
these beautiful water-sprites, and she agreed to be 
his, but her parents resented the union and killed 

On the shore of Smervvick harbour, an Irishman, 
Dick Fitzgerald, caught a Merrow with her cohuleen 
driutJi, or enchanted cap, lying on a rock beside 
her. He grasped the cap, and thereby possessed 
himself of the nymph, who, however, seemed no- 
thing loth to obtain a mortal husband. They 
lived together happily for some years, and saw a 
family of beautiful children grow up at their knees. 
But one day the Lady of Gollerus, as she was 
called, discovered her old cap in a corner. She 
took it up and looked at it, and then thought of 
her father the king and her mother the queen, and 
felt a longing to go back to them. She kissed the 
babies, and then went down to the strand with the 
full intention of returning to Gollerus after a brief 
visit to her home. However, no sooner was the 
cohuleen driuth on her head, than all remembrance 
of her life on earth was forgotten, and she plunged 
into the sea, never to return. Similar tales are 
related in Shetland, the Faroes, in Iceland, and 

Vade, the father of the famous smith Velund, 

506 , Melusina 

was the son of King Vilkin and a mermaid wh( 
he met in a wood on the sea-shore in Russia \ 
the Saga of Half and his knights is an account of ^ 
merman who was caught and kept a little while o\ 
land. He sang the following entreaty to be tak( 
back to his native element — 

" Cold water to the eyes ! 
Flesh raw to the teeth ! 
A shroud to the dead ! 
Fht me back to the sea ! 
Henceforward never 
Men in ships sailing ! 
Draw me to dry land 
From the depth of the sea ^ ! " 

In the " Speculum Regale," an Icelandic work 
the twelfth century, is the following description 
a mermaid : — 

" A monster is seen also near Greenland, whi( 
people call the Margygr. This creature appej 
like a woman as far down as her waist, with brec 
and bosom like a woman, long hands, and sc 
hair, the neck and head in all respects like the 
of a human being. The hands seem to people 
be long, and the fingers not to be parted, b^ 
united by a web like that on the feet of watt 

1 Vilkina Saga, c. 18. 

* Halfs Saga ok rekum hans, c. 7. 


Melusina 507 

birds. From the waist downwards, this monster 
resembles a fish, with scales, tail, and fins. This 
prodigy is believed to show itself especially before 
heavy storms. The habit of this creature is to dive 
frequently and rise again to the surface with fishes 
in its hands. When sailors see it playing with the 
fish, or throwing them towards the ship, they fear 
that they are doomed to lose several of the crew ; 
but when it casts the fish, or, turning from the 
vessel, flings them away from her, then the sailors 
take it as a good omen that they will not suffer 
loss in the impending storm. This monster has a 
very horrible face, with broad brow and piercing 
eyes, a wide mouth, and double chin ^" The 
Landnama, or Icelandic Doomsday book, speaks 
of a Marmennill, or merman, having been caught 
off the island of Grimsey ; and the annals of the 
same country relate the appearance of these beings 
off the coast in 1305 and in 1329. 

Megasthenes reported that the sea which washed 
Taprobane, the modern Ceylon, was inhabited by 
a creature having the appearance of a woman ; and 
yElian improved this account, by stating that there 
are whales having the form of Satyrs. In 11 87, a 

■*' Quoted in " Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas," p. 349. 

508 Melusina 

merman was fished up off the coast of Suffolk. It 
closely resembled a man, but was not gifted witl 
speech. One day, when it had the opportunity t< 
escape, it fled to the sea, plunged in, and was neve 
seen again. Pontoppidan records the appearance 
of a merman, which was deposed to on oath by th< 

" About a mile from the coast of Denmark, nee 
Landscrona, three sailors, observing something lik^ 
a dead body floating in the water, rowed towarc 
it. When they came within seven or eight fathomi 
it still appeared as at first, for it had not stirredj 
but at that instant it sank, and came up almoj 
immediately in the same place. Upon this, out 
fear, they lay still, and then let the boat float, thaj 
they might the better examine the monster, whicl 
by the help of the current, cam^e nearer and nearer t< 
them. He turned his face and stared at them, whi( 
gave them a good opportunity of examining him nai 
rowly. He stood in the same place for seven or eigl 
minutes, and was seen above the water breast-higl 
At last they grew apprehensive of some dangei 
and began to retire ; upon which the monster blei 
up his cheeks and made a kind of lowing noise, 
and then dived from their view. In regard to his 
form, they declare in their aflidavits, which were 

Melusina 509 

regularly taken and recorded, that he appeared like 
an old man, strong limbed, with broad shoulders, 
but his arms they could not see. His head was 
small in proportion to his body, and had short, 
curled black hair, which did not reach below his 
ears ; his eyes lay deep in his head, and he had a 
meagre face, with a black beard ; about the body 
downwards, this merman was quite pointed like a 
fish *." 

In the year 1430, after a violent tempest, which 
broke down the dykes in Holland and flooded the 
low lands, some girls of the town of Edam in West 
Friesland, going in a boat to milk their cows, 
observed a mermaid in shallow water and embar- 
rassed in the mud. 

They took it into their boat and brought it into 
Edam, dressed it in female attire, and taught it to 
spin. It fed with them, but never could be taught 
to speak. It was afterwards brought to Haerlem, 
where it lived for several years, though still show- 
ing a strong inclination for water. Parival, in his 
" Delices de Hollande," relates that it was instructed 
in its duty to God, and that it made reverences 
before a crucifix. Old Hudson, the navigator, in 

* Pontoppidan's Nat. Hist, of Norway, p. 154. 

510 MeliLsina 

his dry and ponderous narrative, records the fol- 
lowing incident, when trying to force a passage to 
the pole near Nova Zembla, lat 75°, on the 15th 
June. " This morning, one of our company lookin| 
overboard saw a mermaid ; and calling up some ol 
the company to see her, one more came up, am 
by that time she was come close to the ship's sidej 
looking earnestly at the men. A little after, a sej 
came and overturned her. From the navel upward, 
her back and breasts were like a woman's, as thej 
say that saw her ; her body as big as one of us^ 
her skin very white, and long hair hanging down' 
behind, of colour black. In her going down they 
saw her tail, which was like the tail of a porpoise, 
speckled like a mackerel. Their names that saw 
her were Thomas Hilles and Robert Rayner." 

In 1560, near the island of Mandar, on the west 
of Ceylon, some fishermen entrapped in their net 
seven mermen and mermaids, of which several 
Jesuits, and Father Henriques, and Bosquez, phy- 
sician to the Viceroy of Goa, were witnesses. Th( 
physician examined them with a great deal oi 
care, and dissected them. He asserts that thej 
internal and external structure resembled that of] 
human beings. We have another account of a 
merman seen near the great rock Diamon, on the 

Melusina 511 

coast of Martinique. The persons who saw it gave 
a precise description of it before a notary ; they 
affirmed that they saw it wipe its hands over its 
face, and even heard it blow its nose. Another 
creature of the same species was captured in the 
Baltic in 1531, and sent as a present to Sigismund, 
King of Poland, with whom it lived three days, 
and was seen by all the Court. Another was 
taken near Rocca de Sintra, as related by Damian 
Goes. The King of Portugal and the Grand- 
Master of the Order of S. James are said to have 
had a suit at law, to determine which party the 
creature belonged to. 

Captain Weddell, well known for his geo- 
graphical discoveries in the extreme south of the 
globe, relates the following story: — "A boat's 
crew were employed on Hall's Island, when one of 
the crew, left to take care of some produce, saw an 
animal whose voice was even musical. The sailor 
had lain down, and about ten o'clock he heard a 
noise resembling human cries ; and as daylight in 
these latitudes never disappears at this season, he 
rose and looked around, but, on seeing no person, 
returned to bed. Presently he heard the noise 
again, rose a second time, but still saw nothing. 
Conceiving, however, the possibility of a boat 

512 Mehisina 

being upset, and that some of the crew might be 
clinging to some detached rocks, he walked along 
the beach a few steps, and heard the noise more 
distinctly, but in a musical strain. Upon search- 
ing round, he saw an object lying on a rock a 
dozen yards from the shore, at which he was some- 
what frightened. The face and shoulders appean 
of human form, and of a reddish colour ; over tl 
shoulders hung long green hair ; the tail resembh 
that of the seal, but the extremities of the arms 
could not see distinctly. The creature continu* 
to make a musical noise while he gazed about t^ 
minutes, and on perceiving him it disappeared i1 
an instant. Immediately when the man saw his 
officer, he told this wild tale, and to add weight to 
his testimony (being a Romanist) he made a cros 
on the sand, which he kissed, as making oath 
the truth of his statement. ' When I saw him, 
told the story in so clear and positive a mann< 
making oath to its truth, that I concluded he must 
really have seen the animal he described, or that 
it must have been the effect of a disturbed ima- 
gination ■\" 

In a splendidly illustrated work with plates 

* Voyage towards the South Pole, p. 143, quoted by Goss: 
Romance of Nat. Hist., 2nd Series. 

Melusina 513 

coloured by hand, " Poissons, ecrevisses et crabes 
de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinalres, que 
Ton trouve autour des Isles Moluques," dedicated 
to King George of England, and published by- 
Louis Renard at Amsterdam, in 171 7, is a curious 
account of a mermaid. This book was the result 
of thirty years' labour, in the Indian seas, .by 
Blatazar Coyett, Governor of the Islands of the 

Province of Amboine and President of the Com- 
missioners in Batavia, and by Adrien Van der Stell, 
Governor Regent of the Province of Amboine. In 
the 2nd volume, p. 240, is the picture of a mermaid 
here reproduced, and the subjoined description : — 
" See-\vyf. A monster resembling a Siren, caught 
near the island of Borne, or Boeren, in the Depart- 
ment of Amboine. It was 59 inches long, and 
in proportion as an eel. It lived on land, in a vat 
full of water, during four days seven hours. From 

L 1 

514 Melusina 

time to time it uttered little cries like those of a 
mouse. It would not eat, though it was offered 
small fish, shells, crabs, lobsters, &c. After its 
death, some excrement was discovered in the vat, 
like the secretion of a cat." The copy from which 
I have taken the representation for this work is 
thus coloured : hair, the hue of kelp ; body, oXw 
tint ; webbed olive between the fingers, which ha^ 
each four joints ; the fringe round the waist orang^ 
with a blue border ; the fins green, face slate-grey ; 
delicate row of pink hairs runs the length of the tc 
With such a portrait we may well ask wit 

Tennyson — 

" Who would be 
A mermaid fair, 
Singing alone, 
Combing her hair 
Under the sea 
In a golden curl, 
With a comb of pearl, 
On a throne ?" 

The introduction to the book contains addition^ 

The A veriissemertt de VEditeur says : — " M. Bal 
tazar Coyett is the first to whom the great dis- 
covery is due. Whilst governor, he encouraged the 
fishery of these fishes ; and after having had 
about two hundred painted of those which were 

Melusina 515 

brought to his home by the Indians of Amboine 
and the neighbouring isles, as well as by the Dutch 
there settled, he formed of them two collections, 
the originals of which were brought by his son to 
M, Scott the Elder, who was then chief advocate, or 
prime minister, of the Company General of the 
East Indies at Amsterdam. He had them copied 
exactly. The second volume, less correct indeed 
in the exactitude of the drawings, but very curious 
on account of the novelties wherewith it is filled, 
and of the remarks accompanying each fish, was 
taken from the collection of M. Van der Stell, 
Governor of the Moluccas, by a painter named 
Gamael Fallours, who brought them to me from 
the Indies, and of which I have selected about 
250. Moreover, to check incredulity in certain per- 
sons, I have thought fit to subjoin the following 
certificates." Among them, the most curious are 
those relating to the mermaid. 

Letter from Renard, the publisher, to M. 
Fran9ois Valentyn, minister of the Gospel at Dort, 
late superintendent of the churches in the colonies, 
dated Amsterdam, Dec. 17, 1716. 

" Monsieur, 

*' His Majesty the Czar of Muscovy having 
L 1 1 

516 Melusma 

done me the honour of visiting my house, and 
having had occasion to show the prince the work 
on the fishes of the Molucca islands, by the Sieur 
Fallours, in which, among other drawings, is the 
enclosed plate, representing a monster resembling 
a Siren, which this painter says that he saw alive 
for four days at Amboine, as you will be pleased to 
see in the writing with his own hand, which accom 
panics this picture, and as he believes that 
Van der Stell, the present Governor of Amboini 
may have sent it to you, I remarked that hi 
Majesty the Czar would be much gratified to have 
this fact substantiated ; wherefore I shall be greatl 
obliged if you will favour me with a reply. 

"I remain, &c." 


"DORT, Z>^^. i8, 1716. 
" Monsieur, 

" It is not impossible that, since my departure 
from the Indies, Fallours may have seen at Am- 
boine the monster whose picture you had the 
courtesy to send me, and which I return enclosed ; 
but up to the present moment I have neither seen 
nor heard of the original. If I had the creature, 
I would with all my heart make a present of it to 



Mehisina 517 

his Majesty the Czar, whose application in the re- 
search of objects of curiosity deserves the praise of 
all the world. But, sir, as evidence that there are 
monsters in nature resembling this Siren, I may 
say that I know for certain, that in the year 1652 
or 1653 ^ lieutenant in the service of the Company 
saw two of these beings in the gulf, near the village 
of Hennetelo, near the islands of Ceram and Boero, 
in the Department of Amboine. They were swim- 
ming side by side, which made him presume that 
one was male, the other female. Six weeks after 
they reappeared in the same spot, and were seen 
by more than fifty persons. These monsters were 
of a greenish grey colour, having precisely the 
shape of human beings from the head to the waist, 
with arms and hands, but their bodies tapered 
away. One was larger than the other ; their hair 
was moderately long. I may add that, on my way 
back from the Indies, in which I resided thirty 
years, I saw, on the ist May, 1714, long. 12° 18', 
and on the Meridian, during clear, calm weather, at 
the distance of three or four ship-lengths off, a 
monster, which was apparently a sort of marine- 
man, of a bluish grey (gris de mer). It was raised 
well above the surface, and seemed to have a sort 
of fisher's cap of moss on its head. All the ship's 

518 Melusina 

company saw it, as well as myself; but although 
its back was turned towards us, the monster seemed 
conscious that we were approaching too near, anc 
it dived suddenly under water, and we saw it nj 

" I am, &c., 

" F. Valentyn." 

Letter from M. Parent, Pastor of the church 
Amsterdam, written and exhibited before tl 
notary Jacob Lansman. 

"Amsterdam, July 15, 1717. 
" Monsieur, 

" I have seen with mingled pleasure and 

surprise the illuminated proofs of the beautiful 

plates which you have had engraved, representing 

the fishes of Molucca, which were painted froi 

nature by the Sieur Samuel Fallours, with whoi 

I was acquainted when at Amboine. I own, sii 

that I was struck with astonishment at the sight 

this work, the engravings of which closely resembl 

the fishes I have seen during my life, and which, 

some of which, I have had the pleasure of eatii 

during the thirteen years I resided at Amboin( 

from which I returned with the fleet in 17 16. 

Touching your inquiry, whether I ever saw a" 

Melusina 51y 

Siren in that country, I reply that, whilst making 
the circuit of our churches in the Molucca Isles 
(which is done twice in the year by the pastors 
who understand the language of the country), and 
navigating in an orambay, or species of galley, be- 
tween the villages of Holilieuw and Karieuw, dis- 
tant from one another about two leagues by water, 
it happened, whilst I was dozing, that the negro 
rowers uttered a shrill cry of astonishment, which 
aroused me with a start ; and when I inquired the 
cause of their outcry, they replied unanimously 
that they had seen clearly and distinctly a monster 
like a Siren, with a face resembling that of a man, 
and long hair like that of a woman floating down 
,its back ; but at their cry it had replunged into 
the sea, and all I could see was the agitation of 
the water where this Siren had disturbed it by 


" I am, sir, &c., 

" Parent." 

One of the most remarkable accounts of a 
mermaid is that in Dr. Robert Hamilton's " His- 
tory of the Whales and Seals," in the " Naturalist's 
Library," he himself vouching for its general truth, 
from personal knowledge of some of the parties. 
" It was reported that a fishing-boat oft* the island 

520 Mehsina 

of Yell, one of the Shetland group, had captun 
a mermaid by its getting entangled in the lines." 
The statement is, that the animal was about three 
feet long, the upper part of the body resembli 
the human, with protuberant mammae, like 
woman ; the face, the forehead, and neck w 
short, and resembling those of a monkey ; t 
arms, which were small, were kept folded aero 
the breast ; the fingers were distinct, not webbed ; 
a few stiff, long bristles were on the top of the head, 
extending down to the shoulders, and these it cou! 
erect and depress at pleasure, something like 
crest. The inferior part of the body was like 
fish. The skin was smooth, and of a grey colour 
It offered no resistance, nor attempted to bite, bi 
uttered a low, plaintive sound. The crew, six 
number, took it within their boat ; but superstiti 
getting the better of curiosity, they carefully dt! 
entangled it from the lines and from a hook whi 
had accidentally fastened in its body, and return 
it to its native element. It instantly dived, dl 
scending in a perpendicular direction. 

" After writing the above, (we are informed) 
narrator had an interview with the skipper of t 
boat and one of the crew, from whom he learn 
the following additional particulars. They h 


Melusina 521 

the animal for three hours within the boat ; the 
body was without scales or hair, was of a silver- 
grey colour above and white below, like the human 
skin ; no gills were observed, nor fins on the back 
or belly ; the tail was like that of the dog-fish ; the 
mammae were about as large as those of a woman ; 
the mouth and lips were very distinct, and resem- 
bled the human. This communication was from 
Mr. Edmonton, a well-known and intelligent ob- 
server, to the distinguished professor of natural his- 
tory in the Edinburgh University ; and Mr. E. adds 
a few reflections, which are so pertinent that we 
shall avail ourselves of them. That a very peculiar 
animal has been taken, no one can doubt. It was 
seen and handled by six men on one occasion and 
for some time, not one of whom dreams of a doubt 
of its being a mermaid. If it were supposed that 
their fears magnified its supposed resemblance to 
the human form, it must at all events be admitted 
that there was some ground for exciting these 
fears. But no such fears were likely to be enter- 
tained ; for the mermaid is not an object of terror 
to the fisherman : it is rather a welcome guest, and 
danger is to be apprehended only from its ex- 
periencing bad treatment. The usual resources of 
scepticism, that the seals and other sea-animals,. 

522 Melusma 

appearing under certain circumstances, operating 
on an excited imagination, and so producing ocular 
illusion, cannot avail here. It is quite impossible 
that, under the circumstances, six Shetland fisher- 
men could commit such a mistake." 

One of these creatures was found in the belly of 
a shark, on the north-west coast of Iceland, and 
thus described by Wernhard Guthmxund's soi 
priest of Ottrardale : — 

"The lower part of the animal was entirelj 
eaten away, whilst the upper part, from tl 
epigastric and hypogastric region, was in soi 
places partially eaten, in others completely d< 
voured. The sternum, or breast-bone, was pel 
feet. This animal appeared to be about the siz^ 
of a boy eight or nine years old, and its head w£ 
formed like that of a man. The anterior surfac 
of the occiput was very protuberant, and the naj 
of the neck had a considerable indentation or sin] 
ing. The alae of the ears were very large, an^ 
extended a good way back. It had front teetl 
which were long and pointed, as were also th^ 
larger teeth. The eyes were lustreless, and n 
sembled those of a codfish. It had on its head 
long black, coarse hair, very similar to the fucus 
filiformis; this hair hung over the shoulders. Its 

Melusina 523 

forehead was large and round. The skin above 
the eyelids was much wrinkled, scanty, and of a 
bright olive colour, which was indeed the hue of the 
whole body. The chin was cloven, the shoulders 
were high, and the neck uncommonly short. The 
arms were of their natural size, and each hand had 
a thumb and four fingers covered with flesh. Its 
breast was formed exactly like that of a man, and 
there was also to be seen something like nipples ; 
the back was also like that of a man. It had very 
cartilaginous ribs ; and in parts where the skin had 
been rubbed off, a black, coarse flesh was per- 
ceptible, very similar to that of the seal. This 
animal, after having been exposed about a week 
on the shore, was again thrown into the sea ^" 

To the manufactured mermaids which come from 
Japan, and which are exhibited at shows, it is not 
necessary to do more than allude ; they testify to 
the Japanese conception of a sea-creature resem- 
bling the Tritons of ancient Greece, the Syrian On 
and Derceto, the Scandinavian Marmennill, and the 
Mexican Coxcox. 

• Quoted in my " Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas." 

^Se dFortunate Islpg 

T N my article on the " Terrestrial Paradise ' 
-^ mentioned the principal mediaeval fables e: 
ing relative to that blessed spot, which was locat 
according to popular belief, in the remote E^ 
of Asia. The Ancients had a floating tradition 
relative to a vast continent called Atlantis, in the, 
far West, where lay Kronos asleep, guarded 
Briareus; a land of rivers, and woods, and 
airs, occupying in their thoughts the posit 
assumed in Christian belief by the earthly pc 
dise. The Fathers of the Church waged 
against this object of popular mythology, 
Scripture plainly indicated the position of 
garden land as " eastward in Eden " (Gen. ii. 8) ; 
but, notwithstanding their attempts to drive thj 
western paradise from the minds of men,] 
held its ground, and was believed in througl 

The Fortunate Isles 525 

out the middle ages, till Christopher Columbus 
sought and found Atlantis and paradise in the 
new world, a world in which the theories of 
the Ancients and of the Mediaevals met, for it 
was truly east of Asia and west of Europe. " The 
saintly theologians and philosophers were right," are 
the words of the great admiral in one of his 
letters, "when they fixed the site of the terrestrial 
paradise in the extreme Orient, because it is 
a most temperate clime ; and the lands which I 
have just discovered are the limits of the Orient ;" 
an opinion he repeats in his letter of 1498 : " I 
am convinced that there is the terrestrial paradise," 
namely that which had been located by SS. Ambrose, 
Isidore, and the Venerable Bede in the East\ 

The belief in a western land, or group of islands, 
was prevalent among the Kelts as well as the Greek 
and Latin geographers, and was with them an 
article of religion, upon which were founded super- 
stitious practices, which perpetuated themselves 
after the introduction of Christianity. 

This belief in a western land probably arose from 
the discovery of objects, unfamiliar and foreign, 
washed up on the European shores. In the life 
of Columbus, Martin Vincent, pilot of the King of 

* Navarrette, Coll. de Documents, i p. 244. 

526 The Fortunate Isles 

Portugal, picked up off Cape S. Vincent a piece 
carved wood ; and a similar fragment was wash< 
ashore on the Island of Madeira, and found by Ped? 
Correa, brother-in-law of the great navigator. The 
inhabitants of the Azores said that when the wind 
blew from the West, there were brought ashore great 
bamboos and pines of a description wholly unknown 
to them. On the sands of the Island of Flores 
were found one day the bodies of two men 
with large faces, and with features very different 
from those of Europeans. On another occasion, two 
canoes were driven on the coast filled with strange 
men ^ In 1682, a Greenland canoe appeared off tl 
Isle of Eda in the Orkneys, and in the church 
Burra was long preserved an Esquimaux be 
which had been washed ashore ^ On the stori 
coast of the Hebrides are often found nuts, whi( 
are made by the fishermen into snuff-boxes or woi 
as amulets. Martin, who wrote of the Western Isl^ 
in 1703, calls them "Molluka beans." They 
seeds of the Mimosa scandens, washed by the gul 
stream across the Atlantic to our shores. Gre^ 
logs of drift-wood of a strange character 

* Herrera, Hist. General, Dec. i. lib. i. cap. 2. 
^ Wallace, An Account of the Islands of Orkney, 
p. do. 

The Fortunate Isles 527 

also carried to the same coasts, and are used by 
the islanders in the construction of their hovels. 

In 1508, a French vessel met with a boat full of 
American Indians not far off the English coast, 
as Bembo tells us in his history of Venice \ Other 
instances have been cited by commentators on the 
curious fragment of Cornelius Nepos, which gave 
rise in the middle ages to a discussion of the 
possibility of forcing a north-west passage to 
India. Humboldt, in his remarks on this passage, 
says : " Pomponius Mela, who lived at a period 
sufficiently near that of Cornelius Nepos, relates, 
and Pliny repeats it, that Metellus Celer, whilst 
Proconsul of Gaul, received as a gift from a 
king of the Boii or Boeti (the name is some- 
what uncertain, and Pliny calls him a king 
of the Suevi) some Indians who, driven by the 
tempests from the Indian seas, landed on the 
coasts of Germany. It is of no importance dis- 
cussing here whether Metellus Celer is the same 
as the Praetor of Rome in the year of the con- 
sulship of Cicero, and afterwards consul coDJointly 
with L. Africanus; or whether the German king was 
Ariovistus, conquered by Julius Caesar. What is 

* Bembo, Hist. Ven. vii. p. 257. 

528 The Fortunate Isles 

certain is, that from the chain of ideas which lead 
Mela to cite this fact as indisputable, one may- 
conclude that in his time it was believed in Rome 
that these swarthy men sent from Germany into 
Gaul had come across the ocean which bathes t 
East and North of Asia ^" 

The canoes, bodies, timber, and nuts, washed 
on the western coasts of Europe, may have ori 
nated the belief in there being a land beyond t 
setting sun ; and this country, when once suppos 
to exist, was variously designated as Meropis, t 
continent of Kronos, Ogygia, Atlantis, the FortU' 
nate Isles, or the Garden of the Hesperides. Strabj 
says distinctly that the only hindrance in the w 
of passing west from Iberia to India is the vasi 
ness of the Atlantic ocean, but that " in the sa 
temperate zone as we inhabit, and especially abo 
the parallel passing through Thinae and traversin, 
the Atlantic, there may exist two inhabited cou: 
tries, and perhaps even more than two ^ 
more distinct prophecy of America than the vague 
expressions of Seneca — " Finitam cuique rei magni- 
tudinem natura dederat, dedit et modum: nihil infi- 

' Humboldt, Essai sur I'Hist. de la Geographic du N. 
Continent, ii. p. 264, note 2. 
" Strabo, Geog. lib. i. 


The Fortunate Isles 529 

nitum est nisi Oceanus. Fertiles in Oceano jacere 
terras, ultraque Oceanum rursus alia littora, alium 
nasci orbem, nee usquam naturam rerum deslnere, 
sed semper inde ubi desiisse videatur, novam exsur- 
gere, facile ista finguntur, quia Oceanus navigari 
non potest" (Suasoria, L). Aristotle accepted the 
notion of there being a new continent in the West, 
and described it, from the accounts of the Cartha- 
ginians, as a land opposite the Pillars of Hercules 
(Str. of Gibraltar), fertile, well-watered, and covered 
with forests ^. Diodorus gives the Phoenicians the 
credit of having discovered it, and adds that there 
are lofty mountains in that country, and that the 
temperature is not subject to violent changes ^ He 
however tries to distinguish between it and the Ely- 
sium of Homer, the Fortunate Isles of Pindar, and 
the Garden of the Hesperides. The Carthaginians 
began to found colonies there, but were forbidden 
by law, as it was feared that the old mother settle- 
ment would be deserted for the new and more at- 
tractive country. Plutarch locates Homer's Island 
of Ogygia five days' sail to the west of Brittia, and 
he adds, the great continent, or terra firma, is five 
thousand stadia from Ogygia. It stretches far 

7 Aristot. De Mirab. Aucult. c. 84. 
^ Diod. Hist., ed. Wessel, torn. i. p. 244. 

M m 

530 The Fortimate Isles 

away towards the north, and the people inhabitii 
this great land regard the old world as a sm| 
island. This is an observation made also by Th< 
pompus, in his geographical mythof Meropis^ 

The ancient theories of Atlantis shall detain 
no longer, as they have been carefully and 
haustively treated by Humboldt in the alrea^ 
quoted work on the geography of the New Worj 
We shall therefore pass to the Kelts, and learn 
position occupied by America in their mythologj 

Brittia, says Procopius, lies iioo stadia from 
coast between Britannia and Thule, opposite 
mouth of the Rhine, and is inhabited by Anglj 
Frisians, and Britons \ By Britannia he means 
present Brittany, and Brittia is England. Tzetze 
relates that on the ocean coast, opposite Britam 
live fishermen subject to the Franks, but freed frc 
paying tribute, on account of their occupation, whi 
consists in rowing souls across to the opposite coas 
Procopius tells the same story, and Sir Walter Sc< 
gives it from him in his " Count Robert of Parii 
*' I have read," says Agelastes, " in that brillial 
mirror which reflects the times of our fathers, the 

9 ^lian, Van Hist. iii. i8. 
* De Bello Gothico, lib. iv. 20. 
^ Ad Lycophr. v. 1200. 

The Fortunate Isles 531 

volumes of the learned Procoplus, that beyond Gaul, 
and nearly opposite to it, but separated by an arm 
of the sea, lies a ghastly region, on which clouds 
and tempests for ever rest, and which is known to 
its continental neighbours as the abode to which 
departed spirits are sent after this life. On one side 
of the strait dwell a few fishermen, men possessed 
of a strange character, and enjoying singular privi- 
leges in consideration of thus being the living ferry- 
men who, performing the office of the heathen 
Charon, carry the spirits of the departed to the 
island which is their residence after death. At 
the dead of the night these fishermen are in 
rotation summoned to perform the duty by which 
they seem to hold permission to reside on this 
strange coast. A knock is heard at the door of his 
cottage, who holds the turn of this singular office, 
founded by no mortal hand ; a whispering, as of 
a decaying breeze, summons the ferryman to his 
duty. He hastens to his bark on the sea-shore, and 
Jias no sooner launched it, than he perceives its hull 
sink sensibly in the water, so as to express the 
weight of the dead with whom it is filled. No form 
is seen ; and though voices are heard, yet the ac- 
cents are undistinguishable, as of one who speaks 
in his sleep." According to Villemarque, the place 
M m 2 

532 The Fortunate Isles 

whence the boat put off with its ghostly freight 
near Raz, a headland near the Bay of Souls, in tl 
extreme west of Finisterre. The bare, desolate vs 
leys of this cape, opposite the Island of Seint, wil 
its tarn of Kleden, around which dance nightly tl 
skeletons of drowned mariners, the abyss of Plog( 
and the wild moors studded with Druid monumenf 
make it a scene most suitable for the assembly 
the souls previous to their ghastly voyage. H( 
too, in Yawdet, the ruins of an ancient town n( 
Llannion, has been identified the ''Xa^iroi of Stral 

" On the great island of Brittia," continues Pi 
copius, "the men of olden time built a great 
cutting off a great portion of the land. East of tl 
wall, there was a good climate and abundant cro] 
but west of it, on the contrary, it was such that 
no man could live there an hour ; it was the 
haunt of myriads of serpents and other reptiles, 
and if any one crossed the wall, he died at once, 
poisoned by the noxious exhalations." This be- 
lief, which acted as a second wall to the realm of 
the dead, preserved strict privacy for the spirits. 
Procopius declares that this tradition was widely 
spread, and that it was reported to him by many 

Claudian also heard of the same myth, but con- 

The Fortunate Isles 533 

fused it with that of the nether world of Odysseus 
"At the extreme coast of Gaul is a spot protected 
from the tides of Ocean, where Odysseus by blood- 
shed allured forth the silent folk. There are 
heard wailing cries, and the light fluttering around 
of the shadows. And the natives there see pale, 
statue-like figures and dead corpses wandering '." 
According to Philemon in Pliny, the Cimbri called 
the Northern Ocean Morimarusa, i.e. mare mortuum, 
the sea of the dead. 

In the old romance of Lancelot du Lac, the 
Demoiselle d'Escalot directed that after death her 
body should be placed richly adorned in a boat, and 
allowed to float away before the wind ; a trace of 
the ancient belief in the passage over sea to the 

" There take the little bed on which I died 
For Lancelot's love, and deck it like the Queen's 
For richness, and me also like the Queen 
In all I have of rich, and lay me on it. 
And let there be prepared a chariot-bier 
To take me to the river, and a barge 
Be ready on the river, clothed in black." 

Tennyson's Elaine. 

. And the grave-digger in Hamlet sings of being 
at death 

^ In Rufin. i. 123 — 133. 

534 The Fortunate Isles 

"... shipp'd intill the land, 
As if I had never been such." 

Act V. Sc. I. 

When King Arthur was about to die, with ^ 
mortal wound in the head, he was brought by gc 
Sir Bedivere to the water's side. 

" And when they were at the water's side, e^ 
fast by the banke, hoved a Httle barge with ma^ 
faire ladies in it, and among them all was a queei 
and all they had blacke hoods, and they wept al 
shriked when they saw King Arthur. *Now 
mee into the barge,' said the king ; and so hee 
softly ; and there received him three queenes 
great mourning, and so these three queenes 
them downe, and in one of their laps King Arthur 
laide his head. And then that queene said, ' Ah ! 
deer brother, why have ye tarried so long from 
me } Alas ! this wound on your head hath taken 
over much cold.' And so then they rowed from 
the land, and Sir Bedivere cried, ' Ah ! my lord 
Arthur, what shall become of mee now ye goe 
from me, and leave me here alone among mine 
enemies.?' * Comfort thy selfe,' said King Arthur, 
*and do as well as thou malest, for in mee is no trust 
for to trust in ; for I wil into the vale of Avilion 
for to heale me of my greivous wound ; and if thou 

The Fortunate Isles 535 

never heere more of mee, pray for my soule.' But 
evermore the queenes and the ladles wept and 
shriked that it was pity for to heare them. And as 
soone as Sir Bedivere had lost the sight of the barge, 
he wept and wailed, and so tooke the forrest ^" 
This fair Avalon — 

" Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, 
Nor ever wind blows loudly ; but — lies 
Deep-meadoVd, happy, fair with orchard lawns 
And bowery hollows crown'd with summer sea," 

is the Isle of the Blessed of the Kelts. Tzetze and 
Procopius attempt to localize it, and suppose that 
the Land of Souls is Britain ; but in this they are 
mistaken ; as also are those who think to find 
Avalon at Glastonbury. Avalon is the Isle of 
Apples — a name reminding one of the Garden of 
the Hesperides in the far western seas, with its tree 
of golden apples in the midst. When we are told 
that in the remote Ogygia sleeps Kronos gently, 
watched by Briareus, till the time comes for his 
awaking, we have a Graecized form of the myth 
of Arthur in Avalon being cured of his grievous 
wound. It need hardly be said that the Arthur 
of romance is actually a demi-god, believed in 

< La Mort d'Arthure, by Sir Thomas Malory, ed. Wright, 
vol. iii. c. 168. 

536 The Fortunate Isles 

long before the birth of the historic Arthur. T 
Ogygia, says Plutarch, lies due west, beneath t 
setting sun. According to an ancient poem pu 
lished by M. Villemarque, it is a place of enchant- 
ing beauty. There youths and maidens dance 
hand in hand on the dewy grass, green trees are 
laden with apples, and behind the woods t 
golden sun dips and rises. A murmuring rill flo 
from a spring in the midst of the island, and thence 
drink the spirits and obtain life with the draught. 
Joy, song, and minstrelsy reign in that bless 
region ^ There all is plenty, and the golden a: 
ever lasts ; cows give their milk in such abundan 
that they fill large ponds at a milking ^ There, 
too, is a palace all of glass, floating in air, a 
receiving within its transparent walls the souls 
the blessed : it is to this house of glass that Mei 
din Emrys and his nine bards voyage ^ To tl 
alludes Taliesin in his poem, "The Booty of 
Deep," where he says, that the valour of Arthur] 
not retained in the glass enclosure. Into tl 
mansion three classes of men obtain no admissic 
— the tailors, of whom it takes nine to makei 

* Villemarque, Barz. Breiz, i. 193. 

" Mem. de I'Acad. Celtique, v. p. 202. 

^ Davies, Mythology of the Druids, p. 522. 




The Fortunate Isles 537 

man, spending their days sitting, and whose hands, 
though they labour, are white ; the warlocks, and 
the usurers ^ 

In popular opinion, this distant isle was far more 
beautiful than paradise, and the rumours of its 
splendour so excited the mind of the medisevals, 
that the western land became the subject of satyre 
and jest. It was nicknamed Cocaigne or Schlaraf- 

An English poem, " apparently written in the 
latter part of the thirteenth century," says Mr. 
Wright (S. Patrick's Purgatory), " which was printed 
very inaccurately by Hickes, from a manuscript 
which is now in the British Museum," describes 
Cocaigne as far away out to sea, west of Spain. 
Slightly modernized it runs thus : — 

" Though Paradise be merry and bright, 
Cokaygne is of fairer sight ; 
What is there in Paradise ? 
Both grass and flower and green ris (boughs). 
Though there be joy and great dute (pleasure), 
There is not meat, but fruit. 
There is not hall, bower, nor bench, 
But water man's thirst to quench." 

In Paradise are only two men, Enoch and Ellas ; 
but Cocaigne is full of happy men and women. 

8 Barz. Breiz, ii. 99. 

538 The Fortunate Isles 

There is no land like it under heaven ; it is there' 
always day and never night ; there quarrelling and 
strife are unknown ; there no people die ; there falls 
neither hail, rain, or snow, neither is thunder hean 
there, nor blustering winds — 

" There is a well fair abbaye 
Of white monks and of grey ; 
There both bowers and halls, 
All of pasties be the walls, 
Of flesh, and fish, and rich meat, 
The like fullest that men may eat. 
•Floweren cakes be the shingles all, 
Of church, cloister, bower, and hall. 
The pins be fat pudings, 
Rich meat to princes and kings." 

The cloister is built of gems and spices, and al 
about are birds merrily singing, ready roaste< 
flying into the hungry mouths ; and there ar^ 
buttered larks and " garlek gret plente." 

A French poem on this land describes it as 
true cookery-land, as its nickname implies. AI 
down the streets go roasted geese turning them-j 
selves ; there is a river of wine ; the ladies are a) 
fair ; every month one has new clothes. Then 
bubbles up the fountain of perpetual youth, which 
will restore to bloom and vigour all who bathe in 
it, be they ever so old and ugly. 

However much the burlesque poets of the Middle 

The Fortunate Isles 539 

Ages might laugh at this mysterious western 
region of blissful souls, it held its own in the belief of 
the people. Curiously enough, the same confusion 
between Britain and Avalon, which was made by 
Procopius, is still made by the German peasantry, 
who have their Engel-land which, through a simi- 
larity of name, they identify with England, to 
which they say, the souls of the dead are trans- 
ported. In this land, according to Teutonic 
mythology, which in this point resembles the 
Keltic, is a glass mountain. In like manner the 
Slaves believe in a paradise for souls wherein is a 
large apple-orchard, in the midst of which rises a 
glass rock crowned with a golden palace ; and in 
olden times they buried bear's claws with the dead, 
to assist him in climbing the crystal mountain ^ 

The mysterious Western Land, in Irish, is called 
Thierna na oge, or the Country of Youth • and it 
is identified with a city of palaces and minsters 
sunk beneath the Atlantic, or at the bottom of 

" The ancient Greek authors," says M. de Latoc- 
naye in his pleasant tour through Ireland, quoted 
by Crofton Croker, " and Plato in particular, have 

' Mannhardt, Germanische Mythen, 330 et seq. 


The Fortu7tate Isles 

recorded a tradition of an ancient world. The] 
pretend that an immense island, or rather a vast 
continent, has been swallowed up by the sea to th< 
west of Europe. It is more than probable that 
the inhabitants of Connemara have never heard oi 
Plato or of the Greeks ; nevertheless they hav( 
also their ancient tradition. 'Our land will re- 
appear some day,' say the old men to the youn^ 
folk, as they lead them on a certain day of the 
year to a mountain-top, and point out over the sea 
to them ; the fishers also on their coasts pretend 
that they see towns and villages at the bottom ofj 
the water. The descriptions which they give oi 
this imaginary country are as emphatic and ex- 
aggerated as those of the promised land : mill 
flows in some of the rivulets, others gush witl 
wine ; undoubtedly there are also streams of whisk] 
and porter \" 

The subject of cities beneath the water, whicl 
appear above the waves at dawn on Easter-day, oi 
which can be seen by moonlight in the still depths] 
of a lake, is too extensive to be considered here,j 
opening up as it does questions of mythologj 

* Crofton Croker, Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland^ 
1862, p. 165. See also Kennedy, Popular Fictions of thej 
Irish Celts. London, 1867. 

The Fortunate Isles 541 

which, to be fully discussed, would demand a 
separate paper. Each myth of antiquity touches 
other myths with either hand, and it is difficult to 
isolate one for consideration without being drawn 
into the discussion of other articles of belief on 
which it leans, and to which it is united. As in 
the sacred symbol of the Church each member 
predicates that which is to follow, and is a logical 
consequence of that which goes before, so that the 
excision of one article would destroy the complete- 
ness, and dissolve the unity of the faith — so, with 
the sacred beliefs of antiquity, one myth is linked 
to another, and cannot be detached without break- 
ing into and destroying the harmony of the 
charmed circle. 

But to confine ourselves to two points — the 
phantom western land, and the passage to it. 

"Those who have read the history of the 
Canaries," writes Washington Irving, "may re- 
member the wonders told of this enigmatical 
island. Occasionally it would be visible from 
their shores, stretching away in the clear bright 
west, to all appearance substantial like themselves, 
and still more beautiful. Expeditions would 
launch forth from the Canaries to explore this land 
of promise. For a time its sun-gilt peaks and long 

542 The Fortunate Isles 

shadowy promontories would remain distinctl; 
visible ; but in proportion as the voyagers apj 
proached, peak and promontory would graduall; 
fade away, until nothing would remain but blue 
sky above and deep blue water below. 

" Hence this mysterious isle was stigmatized b] 
ancient cosmographers with the name of Aprositusj 
or the inaccessible ^" The natives of the Canaries 
relate of this island, which they name after 
Brandan, the following tale. In the early part oi 
the fifteenth century, there arrived in Lisbon ai 
old bewildered pilot of the seas, who had been' 
driven by the tempests he knew not whither, and 
raved about an island in the far deep, upon which 
he had landed, and which he had found peopled 
with Christians and adorned with noble cities. 
The inhabitants told him they were descendants 
of a band of Christians who fled from Spain, when, 
that country was conquered by the Moslems. The] 
were curious about the state of their fatherlandj 
and grieved to hear that the Moslem still hel( 
possession of the kingdom of Granada. The ol( 
man, on his return to his ship, was caught by 
tempest, whirled out once more to sea, and sawi 

* Washington Irving, Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost, and 
other Papers, Edinburgh, 1855, p. 312. 

The Fortunate Isles 543 

no more of the unknown island. This strange 
story caused no Httle excitement in Portugal and 
Spain. Those well versed in history remembered 
to have read that in the time of the conquest of 
Spain, in the eighth century, seven bishops, at the 
head of seven bands of exiles, had fled across the 
great ocean to some distant shores, where they 
might found seven Christian cities, and enjoy their 
faith unmolested. The fate of these wanderers 
had hitherto remained a mystery, and their story 
had faded from memory ; but the report of the 
old pilot revived the long-forgotten theme, and it 
was determined, by the pious and enthusiastic, that 
this island thus accidentally discovered was the 
identical place of refuge, whither the wandering 
bishops had been guided with their flock by the 
hand of Providence. No one, however, entered 
into the matter with half the zeal of Don Fernando 
de Alma, a young cavalier of high standing in the 
Portuguese court, and of the meek, sanguine, and 
romantic temperament. The Island of the Seven 
Cities became now the constant subject of his 
thoughts by day and of his dreams by night ; and 
he determined to fit out an expedition, and set sail 
in quest of the sainted island. Don loacos II. fur- 
nished him with a commission^ constituting him 

544 The Fortunate Isles 

Adalantado, or governor, of any country he mig] 
discover, with the single proviso, that he shoul 
bear all the expenses of the discovery, and pay 
tenth of the profits to the crown. With two vessel 
he put out to sea and steered for the Canaries- 
those days the regions of nautical discovery anj 
romance, and the outposts of the known worh 
for as yet Columbus had not crossed the oceai 
Scarce had they reached those latitudes, than the] 
were separated by a violent tempest. For manj 
days the caravel of Don Fernando was drive^ 
about at the mercy of the elements, and the crel 
were in despair. All at once the storm subsidec 
the ocean sank into a calm, the clouds which hj 
veiled the face of heaven were suddenly withdrawi 
and the tempest-tossed mariners beheld a fair ai 
mountainous island, emerging, as if by enchanf 
ment, from the murky gloom. The caravel no^ 
lay perfectly becalmed off the mouth of a river, 
the banks of which, about a league off, was d( 
scried a noble city, with lofty walls and towers, anj 
a protecting castle. After a time, a stately bar^ 
with sixteen oars was seen emerging from the river 
and approaching the vessel. Under a silken canopy 
in the stern sat a richly-clad cavalier, and over his 
head was a banner bearing the sacred emblem of 

The Fortunate Isles 545 

the cross. When the barge reached the caravel, 
the cavalier stepped on board and, in the old 
Castilian language, welcomed the strangers to the 
Island of the Seven Cities. Don Fernando could 
scarce believe that this was not all a dream. He 
made known his name and the object of his 
voyage. The Grand Chamberlain — such was the 
title of the cavalier from the island — assured him 
that, as soon as his credentials were presented, he 
would be acknowledged as the Adalantado of the 
Seven Cities. In the mean time, the day was 
waning ; the barge was ready to convey him to 
land, and would assuredly bring him back. Don 
Fernando leaped into it after the Grand Chamber- 
lain, and was rowed ashore. Every thing there 
bore the stamp of former ages, as if the world had 
suddenly rolled back for several centuries ; and no 
wonder, for the Island of the Seven Cities had been 
cut off from the rest of the world for several 
hundred years. On shore Don Fernando spent 
an agreeable evening at the court-house, and late 
at night with reluctance he re-entered the barge, 
to return to his vessel. The barge sallied out to 
sea, but no caravel was to be seen. The oarsmen 
rowed on — their monotonous chant had a lulling 
effect. A drowsy influence crept over Don Fer- 

N n 


The Fortunate Isles 

nando : objects swam before his eyes, and he 1( 
consciousness. On his recovery, he found hims< 
in a strange cabin, surrounded by strangers. WheJ 
was he .'* On board a Portuguese ship, bound f(j 
Lisbon. How had he come there } He had be^ 
taken senseless from a wreck drifting about tl 
ocean. The vessel arrived in the Tagus, ai 
anchored before the famous capital. Don F( 
nando sprang joyfully on shore, and hastened 
his ancestral mansion. A strange porter open< 
the door, who knew nothing of him or of his familj 
no people of the name had inhabited the houj 
for many a year. He sought the house of his 
trothed, the Donna Serafina. He beheld her 
the balcony ; then he raised his arms towards h^ 
with an exclamation of rapture. She cast up( 
him a look of indignation, and hastily retired, 
rang at the door ; as it was opened by the port< 
he rushed past, sought the well-known chamb< 
and threw himself at the feet of Serafina. SI 
started back with affright, and took refuge in tl 
arms of a youthful cavalier. 

"What mean you, Senor V cried the latter. 

"What right have you to ask that question 
demanded Don Fernando fiecely. 

"The right of an affianced suitor!" 

TJie Fortunate Isles 647 

"O Serafina ! is this your fidelity?" cried he in a 
tone of agony. 

" Serafina ! What mean you by Serafina, Sefior ? 
This lady's name is Maria." 

"What!" cried Don Fernando; "is not this 
Serafina Alvarez, the original of yon portrait which 
smiles on me from the wall ?" 

" Holy Virgin !" cried the young lady, casting 
her eyes upon the portrait, " he is talking of my 
great-grandmother !" 

With this Portuguese legend, which has been 
charmingly told by Washington Irving, must be 
compared the adventures of Porsenna, king of 
Russia, in the sixth volume of Dodsley's " Poetical 
Collection." Porsenna was carried off by Zephyr 
to a distant region, where the scenery was en- 
chanting, the flowers ever in bloom, and creation 
put on her fairest guise. There he found a princess 
with whom he spent a few agreeable weeks. 
Being, however, anxious to return to his king- 
dom, he took leave of her, saying that after 
three months' absence his return would be neces- 

" ' Three months !' replied the fair, ' three months alone ! 
Know that three hundred years are roll'd away 
Since at my feet my lovely Phoenix lay.' 

N n 2 

548 The Fortunate Isles 

* Three hundred years ! * re-echoed back the prince : 

* A whole three hundred years completed since 
I landed here ?'^' 

On his return to Russia, he was overtaken 
all-conquering time, and died. A precisely sii 
lar legend exists in Ireland. 

In a similar manner Ogier-le-Danois found hii 
self unconscious of the lapse of time in Avalol 
He was one day carried by his steed Papillon_ 
along a track of light to the mystic Vale of Apph 
there he alighted beside a sparkling fountain, aroui 
which waved bushes of fragrant flowering shrul 
By the fountain stood a beautiful maiden, extendi^ 
to him a golden crown wreathed with blossoi 
He put it on his head, and at once forgot the pas 
his battles, his love of glory, Charlemagne and 
preux, died from his memory like a dream. He sa 
only Morgana, and felt no desire other than to si( 
through eternity at her feet. One day the cro-\ 
slipped from Ogier's head, and fell into the founta^ 
immediately his memory returned, and the thougl 
of his friends and relatives, and military prowes 
troubled his peace of mind. He begged Morgan^ 
to permit him to return to earth. She consenti 
and he found that, in the few hours of rapture 
Avalon, two hundred years had elapsed. Char! 

The Fortunate Isles 549 

magne, Roland, and Oliver were no more. Hugh 
Capet sat on the throne of France, the dynasty of 
the great Charles having come to an end. Ogier 
found no rest in France, and he returned to Avalon, 
nevermore to leave the fay Morgana. 

In the Portuguese legend, the Island of the 
Seven Cities is unquestionably the land of departed 
spirits of the ancient Celtiberians ; the properties 
of the old belief remain : the barge to conduct 
the spirit to the shore, the gorgeous scenery, and 
the splendid castle, but the significance of the 
myth has been lost, and a story of a Spanish 
colony having taken refuge in the far western sea 
has been invented, to account for the Don meeting 
with those of his own race in the phantom isle. 

That the belief in this region was very strong 
in Ireland, about the eleventh century, is certain 
from its adoption into the popular mythology of 
the Norsemen, under the name of Greater Ireland 
(Ireland hit Mikla). Till the ruin of the Norse 
kingdom in the east of Erin, in the great battle 
of Clontarf (1114), the Norsemen were brought 
much in contact with the Irish, and by this 
means adopted Irish names, such as Nial and 
Cormac, and Irish superstitions as well. The 
name they gave to the Isle of the Blessed, in the 


7 'he Fortunate Isles 

western seas, was either Great Ireland, becauj 
there the Erse tongue was spoken, — it being 
colony of the souls of the Kelts, — or Hvitramanni 
land, because there the inhabitants were robed 
white. In the mediaeval vision of Owayne tl 
Knight, which is simply a fragment of Kelt 
mythology in a Christian garb, the paradise 
enclosed by a fair wall, " whyte and brygth as glass 
a reminiscence of the glass-palace in Avalon, ai 
the inhabitants of that land — 

" Fayre vestymentes they hadde on." 

Some of these met him on his first starting 
his journey, and there were fifteen in long whij 

The following passages in the Icelandic chronicl^ 
refer to this land of mystery and romance. 

" Mar of Holum married Thorkatla, and thi 
son was Ari ; he was storm-cast on the White-mai 
land, which some call Great Ireland ; this lies in tl 
Western Sea near Vinland the Good (America): 
is called six days' sail due west from Ireland, 
could never leave it, and there he was baptiz( 
Hrafn, who sailed to Limerick, was the first to t( 
of this ; he had spent a long time in Limerick 

The Fortunate Isles 551 

This passage is from the Landnamabok, a work 
of the twelfth century. A turbulent Icelander, 
named Bjorn of Bradwick, vanished from his home. 
Years after, a native of the same island, Gudlief by- 
name, was trading between Iceland and Dublin, 
when, somewhere about the year looo, he was 
caught by a furious gale from the east, and driven 
further in the western seas than he had ever visited 
before. Here he came upon a land well populated, 
where the people spoke the Irish tongue. The 
crew were taken before an assembly of the natives, 
and would probably have been hardly dealt with, 
had not a tall man ridden up, surrounded by an 
armed band, to whom all bowed the knee. This man 
spoke to Gudlief in the Norse tongue, and asked 
him whence he came. On hearing that he was an 
Icelander, he made particular inquiries about the 
residents in the immediate neighbourhood of Brad- 
wick, and gave Gudlief a ring and a sword, to be 
taken to friends at home. Then he bade him re- 
turn at once to Iceland, and 'warn his kindred not 
to seek him in his new home. Gudlief put again 
to sea, and, arriving safely in Iceland, related his 
adventures, concluding that the man he had seen 
was Bjorn of Bradwick ^ Another Icelander 
3 Eyrbyggja Saga, c. 64. Hafniae, 1787, p. 329. 


The Fortunate Isles 

brought away two children from Vinland, a| 
they related that near their home was a lai 
where people walked about in flowing white rol 
singing processional psalms. Northern antiquaric 
attempt to identify this White-man's land 
Florida, where they suppose was settled the We^ 
colony led beyond the sea by Madoc in 1169. 
have little doubt that it is simply an Icelandic re- 
miniscence of the popular Irish superstition relative 
to the Soul Island beneath the setting sun. 

"In his crystal ark, 
Whither sail'd Merlin with his band of bards, 
Old Merlin, master of the mystic lore ; 
Belike his crystal ark, instinct with life, 
Obedient to the mighty Master, reach'd 
The Land of the Departed ; there, belike. 
They in the clime of immortality. 
Themselves immortal, drink the gales of bliss 
Which o'er Flathinnis breathe eternal spring. 
Blending whatever odours make the gale 
Of evening sweet, whatever melody 
Charms the wood traveller." 

Southey'S Madoc, xi. 

This Flath Innis, the Noble Island, is the Gaej 
name for the western paradise. Macpherson, in 
Introduction to the " History of Great Britain," 
lates a legend which agrees with those prevah 
among other Keltic peoples. In former days th( 
lived in Skerr a Druid of renown. Fle sat with 

The 'Fortu7tate Isles 553 

face to the west on the shore, his eye following the 
declining sun, and he blamed the careless billows 
which tumbled between him and the distant Isle of 
Green. One day, as he sat musing on a rock, a storm 
arose on the sea ; a cloud, under whose squally skirts 
the foaming waters tossed, rushed suddenly into the 
bay, and from its dark womb emerged a boat with 
v/hite sails bent to the wind, and banks of gleam- 
ing oars on either side. But it was destitute of 
mariners, itself seeming to live and move. An un- 
usual terror seized on the aged Druid ; he heard 
a voice call, "Arise, and see the Green Isle of 
those who have passed away !" Then he entered 
the vessel. Immediately the wind shifted, the cloud 
enveloped him, and in the bosom of the vapour 
he sailed away. Seven days gleamed on him 
through the mist; on the eighth, the waves rolled 
violently, the vessel pitched, and darkness thickened 
around him, when suddenly he heard a cry, "The 
Isle ! the Isle !" The clouds parted before him, the 
waves abated, the wind died away, and the vessel 
rushed into dazzling light. Before his eyes lay 
the Isle of the Departed basking in golden light. 
Its hills sloped green and tufted with beauteous 
trees to the shore, the mountain -tops were enve- 
loped in bright and transparent clouds, from which 

554 The Fortunate Isles 

gushed limpid streams, which, wandering down t 
steep hill-sides with pleasant harp-like murm 
emptied themselves into the twinkling blue ba 
The valleys were open and free to the ocean ; tr 
loaded with leaves, which scarcely waved to t 
light breeze, were scattered on the green declivitii 
and rising ground ; all was calm and bright ; t 
pure sun of autumn shone from his blue sky on the 
fields ; he hastened not to the west for repose, nor 
was he seen to rise in the east, but hung as a golden 
lamp, ever illumining the Fortunate Isle. 

There, in radiant halls, dwelt the spirits of t 
departed, ever blooming and beautiful, ever laug 
ing and gay. 

It is curious to note how retentive of ancient 
mythologic doctrines relative to death are the mem 
ries of the people. This Keltic fable of the ' La 
beyond the Sea," to which the souls are borne afti 
death, has engrafted itself on popular religion 
England. The following hymn is from the coll 
tion of the Sunday School Union, and is found 
on this venerable Druidic tenet : — 

'' Shall we meet beyond the river, 
Where the surges cease to roll. 
Where in all the bright For-ever 
Sorrow ne'er shall press the soul 1 


TJte Fortunate Isles 555 

" Shall we meet in that blest harbour, 
When our stormy voyage is o'er ? 
Shall we meet and cast the anchor 
By the fair celestial shore ? 

" Shall we meet with many loved ones, 
Who were torn from our embrace ? 
Shall we listen to their voices, 
And behold them face to face ?" 

So is a hymn from the Countess of Huntingdon's 
collection : — 

" I launch into the deep, 

And leave my native land, 

Where sin lulls all asleep : 
For thee I fain would all resign. 
And sail for heav'n with thee and thine. 

" Come, heav'nly wind, and blow 

A prosp'rous gale of grace, 

To waft from all below 

To heav'n, my destined place : 
There in full sail my port I'll find, 
And leave the world and sin behind." 

Or I might quote a poem on " The Last Voyage," 
from the Lyra Messianica, which one would have 
supposed to have been founded on the Gaelic 
legend told by Macpherson : — 

" On ! on ! through the storm and the billow, 
By life's chequer'd troubles opprest, 
The rude deck my home and my pillow, 
I sail to the land of the Blest. 


The Fortunate Isles 

The tempests of darkness confound me, 

Above me the deep waters roll, 
But the arms of sweet Pity surround me, 

And bear up my foundering soul. 

" With a wild and mysterious commotion 

The torrent flows, rapid and strong ; 
Towards a mournful and shadowy ocean 

My vessel bounds fiercely along. 
Ye waters of gloom and of sorrow, 

How dread are your tumult and roar ! 
But, on ! for the brilliant to-morrow 

That dawns upon yonder bright shore ! 

" O Pilot, the great and the glorious. 

That sittest in garments so white, 
O'er death and o'er hell ' The Victorious,' 

The Way and the Truth aftd the Light, 
Speak, speak to the darkness appalling, 

And bid the mad turmoil to cease : 
For, hark ! the good Angels are calling 

My soul to the haven of Peace. 

" Now, ended all sighing and sadness. 
The waves of destruction all spent, 
I sing with the children of gladness 
The song of immortal content." 

It would be a study of no ordinary interest tj 
trace modern popular Protestantism back to th^ 
mythologic systems of which it is the resultant 
The early Fathers erred in regarding the ancienj 
heresies as bastard forms of Christianity ; the] 
were distinct religions, feebly tinged by contac 
with the religion of the Cross. In like manner, 

The Fortimate Isles 557 

am satisfied that we make a mistake in considering 
the Dissent of England, especially as manifested 
in greatest intensity in the wilds of Cornwall, 
Wales, and the eastern moors of Yorkshire, where 
the Keltic element is strong, as a form of Chris- 
tianity. It is radically different : its framework 
and nerve is of ancient British origin, passing itself 
off as a spiritual Christianity. 

In S. Peter's, Rome, is a statue of Jupiter, de- 
prived of his thunderbolt, which is replaced by the 
emblematic keys. In like manner, much of the 
religion of the lower orders, which we regard as 
essentially Christian, is ancient heathenism, refitted 
with Christian symbols. The story of Jacob's 
stratagem is reversed : the voice is the elder bro- 
ther's voice, but the hands and the raiment are 
those of the younger. 

I have instanced the belief in angelic music 
calling away the soul as one heathen item in 
popular Protestant mythology — 

" Hark ! they whisper ! Angels say, 
* Sister spirit, come away ! ' " 

Another is embodied in the tenet that the souls of 
the departed become angels. In Judaic and Chris- 
tian doctrine, the angel creation is distinct from 
that of human beings, and a Jew or a Catholic 

558 The Fortunate Isles 

would as little dream of confusing the distin< 
conception of angel and soul, as of believing 
metempsychosis. But not so dissenting religio^ 
According to Druidic dogma, the souls of the dei 
were guardians of the living ; a belief shared wit 
the ancient Indians, who venerated the spirits 
their ancestry, the Pitris, as watching over ai 
protecting them. Thus, the hymn " I want to 
an Angel," so popular in dissenting schools, 
founded on the venerable Aryan myth, and ther^ 
fore of exceeding interest ; but Christian it is not. 

Another tenet which militates against Christiai 
doctrine, and has supplanted it in popular beliej 
is that of the transmigration of the soul to blij 
immediately on its departure from the body. 

The article stantis vel cadentis Fidei, of thj 
Apostles, was the resurrection of the body. If 
read the Acts of the Apostles and their Epistle? 
with care, it is striking how great weight, we find, 
is laid on this doctrine. They went every where 
preaching — i. the rising of Christ ; 2. the con- 
sequent restoration of the bodies of Christians. " If 
the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised ; and 
if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain. But 
now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the 
first fruits of them that slept. For as in Adam all 

The Fortunate Isles 559 

die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive \" 
This was the key-note to the teaching of the 
Apostles ; it runs through the New Testament, and 
is reflected in the writings of the Fathers. It 
occupies its legitimate position in the Creeds, and 
the Church has never failed to insist upon it with 
no faltering voice. 

But the doctrine of the soul being transported 
to heaven, and of its happiness being completed 
at death, finds no place in the Bible or the Liturgies 
of any branch — Greek, Roman, or Anglican — of 
the Church Catholic. Yet this was the tenet of 
our Keltic forefathers, and it has maintained itself 
in English Protestantism, so as to divest the doctrine 
of the resurrection of the body of its grasp on the 
popular mind. Among the Kelts, again, reception 
into the sacred inner circle of the illuminated was 
precisely analogous to the received dissenting 
doctrine of conversion. To it are applied, by the 
bards, terms such as *the second birth,* 'the 
renewal,' which are to this day employed by 
Methodists to designate the mysterious process of 

But to return to the subject of this article. It is 
a singular fact, that only the other day I heard of 

* I Cor. XV. i6, 17, 20, 21. 

560 The Fortunate Isles 

a man in Cleveland, being buried two years ago 
with a candle, a penny, and a bottle of wine in his 
coffin : the candle to light him along the road, the 
penny to pay the ferry, and the wine to nourish 
him, as he went to the New Jerusalem. I was t 
this, and this explanation was given me, by so 
rustics who professed to have attended the funer 
This looks to me as though the shipping into t 
other land were not regarded merely as a figure 
speech, but as a reality. 


T REMEMBER a long scramble in Iceland, over 
•^ the ruins of tufif rock in a narrow gorge. My 
little pony had toiled sturdily up a dusty slope 
leading apparently to nothing, when, all at once, 
the ravine terminated in an abrupt scarp, whence 
was obtained a sudden peep of entrancing beauty. 
Far away in front gleamed a snowy dome of silver, 
doubly refined and burnished, resting upon a base- 
ment of gentian blue, 

" Some blue peaks in the distance rose. 
And white against the cold-white sky- 
Shone out their crowning snows." 

To the left started sheer precipices of ink -black 
rock to icy pinnacles, from which fell a continuous 
powder of white water into a lake, here black as 
the rocks above it, yonder bluer than the over- 
arching heavens. Not a sound of animated life 

O o 

56^ Swan- Maidens 

broke the stillness, which would have been oppres- 
sive, but for the patter of the falling streams. The 
only living objects visible were two white swans 
rippling proudly through the clear water. 

I have never since felt surprise at superstition 
attaching itself to these glorious birds, haunting 
lone tarns, pure as new-fallen snow. The first 
night I slept under my tent in the same island, I 
was wakened with a start by a wild triumphant 
strain as of clarions pealing from the sky. I crept 
from under canvas to look up, and saw a flight of 
the Hooper swans on their way to the lakes of the 
interior, high up, lit by the sun, like flakes of gold- 
leaf against the green sky of an arctic night. 

Its solitary habits, the purity of its feathers, its 
wondrous song, have given to the wild swan a 
charm which has endeared it to poets, and ensure 
its introduction into mythology. 

The ancient Indians, looking up at the sky ov< 
which coursed the white cirrus clouds, fabled of 
heavenly lake in which bathed the swan-lil 
Apsaras, impersonifications of these delicate ligl 
cloud-flakes. What these white vapours were, tl 
ancient Aryans could not understand ; therefore, 
because they bore a more or less remote resem- 
blance to swans floating on blue waters, they sup- 

Swan-Maide7ts 563 

posed them to be divine beings partaking of the 
nature and appearance of these beautiful birds. 

The name Apsaras signifies those who go in the 
water, from ap, water, and saras, from sr, to go. 
Those who bear tlie name skim as swans over the 
lotus-pond of heaven, or, laying aside their feather- 
dresses, bathe, as beautiful females, in the limpid 
fiood. These swan-maidens are the houris of the 
Vedic heaven ; receiving to their arms the souls of 
the heroes. Sometimes they descend to earth, and 
become the wives of mortals ; but soon their 
celestial nature re-asserts itself, and they expand 
their luminous wings, and soar away into the 
heavenly deeps of tranquil azure. I have else- 
where referred to the story of Urva9i, the Apsaras, 
and her lover Puravaras. And Somadeva relates 
the adventures of a certain Ni9cayadatta, who 
caught one of these celestial maidens, and then 
lost her, but, full of love, pursued her to the golden 
city above '. He tells also of Sridatta, who beheld 
one bathing in the Ganges, and, plunging after her, 
found himself in a wondrous land beneath the 
water, in the company of the beloved ^ 

In the Kalmuk collection of tales called Siddhi- 

^ Katha Sarit Sagara, book vii. c. 37. 
^ Ibid, book ii. c. 10. 


564 Swa7t- Maidens 

Kur ', which is a translation from the Sanskrit, Is 
story of a woman who had three daughters. Tl 
girls took it in turn to keep the cattle. An o^ 
was lost, and the eldest, in search of it, entered 
cave, where she found an extensive lake of ripplinj 
blue water, on which swam a stainless swan. SI 
asked for her ox, and the bird replied that sW 
should have it if she would become his wife. SI 
refused, and returned to her mother. Next daj 
the second sister lost an ox, traced it to the cav^ 
pursued it into the land of mysteries, and saw thj 
blue lake surrounded by flowery banks, on whic 
floated a silver swan. She refused to become hi 
wife, as did her sister. Next day the sai 
incidents were repeated with the third sister, wh< 
however, proved more compliant to the wishes 
the swan. 

The Samojeds have a wild tale about swai 
maidens. Two Samojeds lived in a desolate mooj 
where they caught foxes, sables, and bears. 0\ 
went on a journey, the other remained at home 
He who travelled, reached an old woman chopping 
birch-trees. He cut down the trees for her, an( 
drew them to her tent. This gratified the old 

5 Siddhi-Kur, Tale vii. 

Swan-Maidens 565 

woman, and she bade him hide, and see what 
would take place. He concealed himself; and 
shortly after beheld ?>^-w^vi maidens approach. They 
asked the old woman whether she had cut the 
wood herself, and then whether she was quite 
alone. To both questions she replied in the affir- 
mative ; then they went away. The old woman 
then drew the Samojed from his hiding-place, and 
bade him follow the traces of the damsels, and 
steal the dress of one of them. He obeyed. 
Emerging from a wood of gloomy pines, he came 
upon a beautiful lake, in which swam the seven 
maidens. Then the man took away the dress 
which lay nearest to him. The seven swam to the 
shore and sought their clothes. Those of one were 
gone. She cried bitterly, and exclaimed, " I will 
be the wife of him who has stolen my dress, if he 
will restore it me." He replied, " No, I will not 
give you back your feather dress, or you will 
spread your wings, and fly away from me." 
" Give me my clothes, I am freezing !" 
*'Not far from here are seven Samojeds, who 
range the neighbourhood by day, and at night 
hang their hearts on the tent-pegs. Procure for 
me these hearts, and I will give you the clothes." 
*' In five days I will bring them to you." 

566 Swan- Maidens 

Then he gave her the clothes, and returned to 
his companion. 

One day the maiden came to him out of the 
sky, and asked him to accompany her to the 
brothers, whose hearts he had set her to procure. 
They came to the tent, and the man secreted 
himself, but the damsel became invisible. At 
night the seven Samojeds returned, ate their 
supper, and then hitched up their hearts to the 
tent-pegs. The swan-maiden stole them, and 
brought them to her lover. He dashed all but one 
upon the ground, and as they fell, the brothers 
expired. But the heart of the eldest he did not 
kill. Then the man without a heart awoke, and 
entreated to have it returned to him. 

"Once upon a time you killed my mother," 
said the Samojed ; '' restore her to life, and you 
shall have your heart." 

Then the man without the heart said to his wife, 
" Go to the place where the dead lie, there you 
will find a purse, in that purse is her soul ; shake 
the purse over the dead woman's bones, and she 
will come to life." The woman did as she was 
ordered, and the mother of the Samojed revived. 
Then he dashed the heart to the ground, and the 
last of the seven brothers died. 

Swan- Maidens 567 

But the swan-maiden took her own heart and 
that of her husband, and threw them into the air. 
The mother of the Samojed saw that they were 
without hearts, so she went to the lake where 
swam the six maidens ; she stole one dress, and 
would not restore it till the maiden had promised 
to recover the hearts which were in the air. This 
she succeeded in doing, and her dress was restored '*. 

Among the Minussinian Tatars these mysterious 
ladies have lost their grace and beauty. They 
dwell in the seventeenth region of the earth in 
raven-black rocks, and are fierce, raging demons of 
the air. They scourge themselves into action with 
a sword, lap the blood of the slain, and fly gorged 
with blood for forty years. In number they are 
forty, and yet they run together into one ; so that 
at one time there is but a single swan-woman, at 
another the sky is dark with their numerous wings ; 
a description which makes it easy to identify them 
with clouds. But there are not only evil swan- 
women, there are also good ones as well. 

Katai Khan lived on the coast of the White Sea, 
at the foot of gloomy mountains. He had two 
daughters, Kara Kuruptju (black thimble) and 

* Castren, Etlmologische Vorlesungen iiber die Altaischen 
Volker. St. Petersburg, 1857, pp. 172 — 176. 



Kesel Djibak (red silk) ; the elder evil disp^ 
and in league with the powers of darkness, a friem 
of the raging swan-woman ; the younger beautiful 
and good. 

" Kesel Djibak often riseth, 
In a dress of snowy swan, 
To the realm where reign the Kudai. 
There the Kudai's daughters seven 
Fly on wings of snowy swan ; 
With them sporteth Kesel Djibak, 
Swimming on the golden lake *." 

The seven Kudai, or gods of the Tatars, are the 
planets. Kara Kuruptju is the evening twilight, 
Kesel Djibak the morning dawn which ascends to 
the heavens, and there lingers among the floating 
feathery clouds. But Kara Kuruptju descends to 
the gloomy realm of the evil-hearted swan-women, 
where she marries their son Djidar Mos (bronzen), 
the thunder-cloud. These grimly swanlike damsels 
of the Tatars irresistibly remind us of the Phor- 
cydse ; KVKv6jiiop(j>oi, as .^schylus calls them. 

The classic swan myths must be considered in 
greater detail. They are numerous, for each 
Greek tribe had its own favourite myths, and ad- 
ditional fables were being constantly imported into 

Schiefner, Heldensagen der Minussinischen Tataren. 
St. Petersburg, 1859, p. 201. 

Swan- Maidens 509 

religion from foreign sources. The swan was with 

the Greeks the bird of the Muses, and therefore 

also of Apollo. When the golden-haired deity was 

born, swans came from the golden stream of Pacto- 

lus, and seven times wheeled about Delos, uttering 

songs of joy. 

" Seven times, on snowy pinions, circle round 
The Delian shores, and skim along the ground : 
The vocal birds, the favourites of the Nine, 
In strains melodious hail the birth divine. 
Oft as they carol on resounding wings. 
To soothe Latona's pangs, as many strings 
Apollo fitted to the warbling lyre 
In aftertimes ; but ere the sacred choir 
Of circling swans another concert sung, 
In melting notes, the power immortal sprung 
To glorious birth "." 

A picture, this, of the white cloudlets fleeting 
around the rising sun. 

The Muses were originally nymphs, and are the 
representatives of the Indian Apsaras ; and it is on 
this account that the swans are their symbols. 
Beyond the Eridanus, in the land of the Lygii 
{Auyve^, i.e. the clear-ringing), lived once a songful 
(jjLovatKo^;) king. Him Apollo transformed into a 
swan^ " Cycnus having left his kingdom, accom- 

* Callimachus, Hymn. Delos. Cf. also Euripides, Iphig. 
in Tauris, mo. 
7 Paus. i. 30, 3 ; Lucian, de Electro, 5. 

570 Swan- Maidens 

panied by his sisters, was filling the verdant banks, 
and the river Eridanus, and the forest, with his com- 
plaints ; when the human voice becomes shrill, and 
grey feathers conceal his hair. A long neck, too, 
extends from his breast, and a membrane joins his 
reddening toes ; plumage clothes his sides, and his 
mouth becomes a pointless bill. Cycnus becomes a 
new bird ; but he trusts himself neither to heavens 
nor the air. He frequents the pools and wide 
meers, and abhorring fires, choses the streams ^" 
This Cycnus was a son of Sthenelus ; he is the same 
as the son of Pelopea by Ares, and the son of Thy- 
ria by Poseidon. The son of Ares lived in southern 
Thessaly, where he slew pilgrims till Apollo cut off 
his head, and gave the skull to the temple of Ares. 
According to another version of the story, he was 
the son of Ares by Pyrene. When Herakles had 
slain him, the father was so enraged that he fought 
with the hero of many labours. 

Cycnus, a son of Poseidon, was matched against 
Achilles, who, stripping him of his armour, sud- 
denly beheld him transformed into a swan ; or he 
is the son of Hyrie, who springs from a rock and 
becomes the bird from which he derives his name, 

* Ovid, Metam. ii. Fab. 4. 

Swan-Maidens 571 

whilst his mother dissolving into tears is transformed 
into a lake whereon the stately bird can glide. 

In the fable of Leda, Zeus, the heaven above, 
clothed in swan's shape, — that is, enveloped in 
white mist, — embraces the fair Leda, who is pro- 
bably the earth-mother ^, and by her becomes the 
father of the Dioscuri, the morning and evening 
twilights, and, according to some, of beautiful 
Helen, that is, Selene, the moon. The husband of 
Leda was Tyndareos, a name which identifies him 
with the thunderer, and he is therefore the same as 

According to the Cyprian legend. Nemesis, fly- 
ing the pursuit of Zeus, took the form of a swan, 
and dropped an ^^g^ from which issued Helen. 
Nemesis is a Norn, who, with Shame, "having 
abandoned men, depart, when they have clad their 
fair skin in white raimenty to the tribe of the 
immortals \" 

Swans were kept and fed as sacred birds on the 
Eurotas, and were reverenced in Sparta as emblems 

' AiySa is probably from lada, i. e. woman. Leda, however, 

bears a close resemblance to Leto, the dark-robed {Kvavoii^ 

rrXos), who takes her name from AavOdvca or XtjOo), lateo, and 

- signifies darkness, which gives birth to Apollo, the sun, and 

Artemis, the moon. 

^ Hesiod, W. and D., 2co. 

572 Swan- Maidens 

of Aphrodite : this is not surprising, as Aphrodite 
is identical with Helen, the moon, which swims at 
night as a silver swan upon the deep dark sky-sea. 
A late fable relates how that Achilles and Helen 
were united on a spirit-isle in Northern Pontus, 
where they were served by flights of white birds ^ 

In the North, however, is the home of the swan, 
and there we find the fables about the mystic bird 
in great profusion. There, as a Faroese ballad 
says — 

" Fly along, o'er the verdant ground. 
Glimmering swans to the rippling sound ;" 

or, as an Icelandic song has it — 

" Sweetly swans are singing 

In the summer time. 
There a swan as silver white, 

In the summer time, 
Lay upon my bosom light 

Lily maiden. 
Sweetly swans are singing ! '* 

The venerable Edda of Soemund relates how 
that there were once three brothers, sons of a king 
of the Finns ; one was called Slagfid, the second 
Egil, the third Volund, the original of our Wayland 
smith. They went on snow-shoes and hunted wild 

* Pausan. iii. 19. 

Swan- Maidens 573 

beasts. They came to Ulfdal, and there made 
themselves a house, where there is a water called 
the Wolflake. Early one morning they found, on 
the border of the lake, three maidens sitting and 
spinning flax. Near them lay their swan plumages : 
they were Valkyries. Two of them, Hladgud, the 
Swan-white, and Hervor, the All-white, were daugh- 
ters of King Hlodver ; the third was Olrun, a 
daughter of Kiar of Valland. They took them 
home with them to their dwelling : Egil had 
Olrun, Slagfid had Swan-white, and Volund All- 
white. They lived there seven years, and then 
they flew away, seeking conflicts, and did not 
return. Egil then went on snow-shoes in search 
of Olrun, and Slagfid in search of Swan-white, but 
Volund remained in Wolfdale. In the German 
story of the mighty smith, as preserved in the 
Wilkina Saga, this incident has disappeared ; but 
that the myth was Teutonic as well as Scandi- 
navian, appears from the poem on Frederick of 
Suabia, a composition of the fourteenth century ', 
wherein is related how the hero wanders in search 
^of his beloved Angelburga. By chance he arrives 
it a fountain, in which are bathing three maidens, 

* Bragur, Leipzig, 1800, vi. p. 204. 

574 Swan-Maidens 

with their dresses, consisting of doves' feathers, lying 
at the side. Wieland, armed with a root which 
renders him invisible, approaches the bank and steals 
the clothes. The maidens, on discovering their 
loss, utter cries of distress. Wieland appears, and 
promises to return their bird-skins if one of them 
will consent to be his wife. They agree to the 
terms, leaving the choice to Wieland, who selects 
Angelburga, whom he had long loved without 
having seen. Brunhild, who was won by Sigurd, 
and who died for him, is said to " move on her seat 
as a swan rocking on a wave'';" and the three sea- 
maids from whom Hague stole a dress, which is 
simply described as " wonderful " in the Nibelungen- 
Lied, are said to — 

" swim as birds before him on the flood ^" 
An old German story tells of a nobleman who 
was hunting in a forest, when he emerged upon a 
lake in which bathed an exquisitely beautiful 
maiden. He stole up to her, and took from her 
the gold necklace she wore ; then she lost her power 
to fly, and she became his wife. At one birth she 
bore seven sons, who had all of them gold chains 
round their necks, and had the power, which their 

'* Fornaldur-Sogur, i. p. i86. 
* Nibelungen-Lied, 1476. 


Swan- Maidens 575 

mother had possessed, of transforming themselves 
into swans at pleasure. In the ancient Gudrun-Lied, 
an angel approaches like a swimming wild-bird. 

A Hessian forester once saw a beautiful swan 
floating on a lonely lake. Charmed with its beauty, 
he prepared to shoot it, when it exclaimed, " Shoot 
not, or it will cost you your life !" As he persisted 
in taking aim, the swan w^as suddenly transformed 
into a lovely girl, who swam towards him, and told 
him that she was bewitched, but could be freed if 
he would say an "Our Father " every Sunday for her 
during a twelvemonth, and not allude to what he 
had seen in conversation with his friends. He 
promised, but failed to keep silence, and lost her. 

A hunter in Southern Germany lost his wife, and 
w^as in deep affliction. He went to a hermit and 
asked his advice ; the aged man advised him to 
seek a lonely pool, and wait there till he saw 
three swans alight and despoil themselves of their 
feathers, then he was to steal one of the dresses, 
and never return it, but take the maiden whose was 
the vesture of plumes to be his wife. This the 
huntsman did, and he lived happily with the 
beautiful damsel for fifteen years. But one day 
he forgot to lock the cupboard in which he kept 
the feather-dress ; the wife discovered it, put it on. 

576 Swaji-Maidens 

spread her wings, and never returned. In some] 
household tales a wicked step-mother throws whit( 
skirts over her step-children, and they are at once' 
transformed into swans. A similar story is that of 
Hasan of Basra in the Arabian Nights. 

The old fables of Valkyries were misunderstood, 
when Christianity had cast these damsels from 
heaven, and the stories were modified to account 
for the transformation. The sweet maidens no 
more swam of their own free will in the crystal 
waves, but swam thus through the force of an 
enchantment they were unable to break. Thus, in 
the Irish legend of Fionmala, the daughter of 
King Lir, on the death of the mother of Fingula 
(Fionmala) and her brothers, their father marries 
the wicked Aoife, who, through spite, transforms the 
children of Lir into swans, which must float on the 
waters for centuries, till the first mass-bell tingles. 
Who does not remember Tom Moore's verses on 
this legend } — 

" Silent, O Moyle, be the roar of thy water ; 

Break not, ye breezes, your chain of repose, 
While, murmuring mournfully, Lir's lovely daughter 

Tells to the night-star the tale of her woes. 
When shall the swan, her death-note singing, 

Sleep with wings in darkness furl'd "i 
When will heaven, its sweet bells ringing, 

Call my spirit from this stormy world ? 

Swan-Maidens hll 

" Sadly, O Moyle, to thy winter-wave weeping, 

Fate bids me languish long ages away ; 
Yet still in her darkness doth Erin lie sleeping, 

Still doth the pure light its dawning delay. 
When will that day-star, mildly springing, 

Warm our isle with peace and love ? 
When will heaven, its sweet bells ringing. 

Call my spirit to the fields above ? " 

In another version of the story there is no term 
fixed for the breaking of the enchantment ; but 
when the bells of Innis-gloria rang for the mass, 
four white birds rose from the loch and flew to 
church, where they occupied daily a bench, sitting 
side by side and exhibiting the utmost reverence 
and devotion. Charmed at the piety of the birds, 
S. Brandan prayed for them, when they were trans- 
formed into children, were baptized, and then died. 

In a Sclavonian legend, a youth was reposing in 

a forest. The wind sighed through the trees, filling 

him with a tender melancholy which could find no 

expression in words. Presently there fluttered 

through the branches a snowy swan, which alighted 

on his breast. The youth clasped the beautiful 

bird to his heart, and "resisted all its struggles to 

escape. Then the swan changed into a beautiful 

girl, who forthwith accompanied him to church, 

where they were united. 

A weird Icelandic saga tells of a battle fought 

P p 

578 Swan-Maide7zs 

on the ice of Lake Vener, between two Swedisj 
kings, assisted by the chief Helgi and King Ok 
of Norway, supported by Hromund Greipsson, thj 
betrothed of the king's sister Swan-white. Abo^ 
the heads of the combatants flew a great swanj 
this was Kara, the mistress of Helgi, who ha^ 
transformed herself into a bird. She, by her ii 
cantations, blunted the weapons of King Olaf; 
men, so that they began to give way before th^ 
Swedes. But accidentally Helgi, in raising his 
sword, smote off the leg of the swan which floated 
on expanded wings above his head. From that 
moment the tide of battle turned, and the Nor- 
wegians were victorious I 

It is a fair subject for inquiry, whether the 
popular iconography of the angel-hosts is not in- 
debted to the heathen myth for its most striking 
features. Our delineations of angels in flowing 
white robes, with large pinions, are derived from the 
later Greek and Roman representations of victory ; 
but were not these figures — half bird, half woman — 
derived from the Apsaras of the Vedas, who were 
but the fleecy clouds, supposed in the ages of man's 
simplicity to be celestial swans } 

' Fomaldur Sogur, ii. p. 374. 

Cf)e i^nigSt of tje Stoan 


cronicles that sometime ther was a noble 
king in Lilefort, otherwise named the strong yle, a 
muche riche lande, the which kinge had to name 
Pieron. And he tooke to wife and spouse Mata- 
brunne the doughter of an other king puissaunt 
and riche mervailously." By his wife Matabrune, 
the king became father of Oriant, " the which after 
the dyscease of his father abode with his mother 
as heir of the realme, whiche he succeded and 
governed peasiabli without to be maried." 

One day King Oriant chased a hart in the forest, 
and lost his way ; exhausted with his ride, he drew 
rein near a fountain which bubbled out from under 
a mossy rock. 

'*And there he sat downe under a tree, to the 
which he reined his horse the better to solace and 
P p 2 

680 The Knight of the Swan 

sporte him at his owne pleasure. And thus as 
he was in consolacion there came to him a yonge 
damoysel moche grevous and of noble maintene, 
named Beatrice, accompanied of a noble knight, 
and two squires, with iiii damoyselles, the which 
she held in her service and famyliarite." 

This Beatrice became the wife of Oriant, much 
to the chagrin of his mother, who had hitherto 
held rule in the palace, and who at once hated 
her daughter-in-law, and determined on her de- 

The king had not been married many months 
before war broke out, and he was called from 
home to head his army. Before leaving, he con- 
signed his wife to the care of his mother, who 
promised to guard her with the utmost fidelity. 
" Whan the time limited and ordeined of almighti 
god approched that the noble and goodly quern 
Beatrice should be delivered after the cours 
nature, the false matrone aforsaid went am 
delibered in herselfe to execute and put in effect^ 
her malignus or moste wicked purpose. . . . But 
she comen made maners of great welth to the said 
noble queue Beatrice. And sodainly in great 
paine and traivable of bodye, she childed vi sonnes 
and a faire doughter, at whose birthe eche of them 

The Knight of the Swan 581 

brought a chaine of silver about their neckes 
issuing out of their mothers wombe. And whan 
Matabrune saw the vii litle children borne having 
echone a chaine of silver at necke, she made them 
lightli and secretli to be borne a side by her 
chamberer of her teaching, and than toke vii litle 
dogges that she had prepared, and all bloudy laide 
them under the queue in maner as they had issued 
of her bodye." 

Then Matabrune ordered her squire Marks to 
take the seven children to the river and drown 
them ; but the man, moved by compassion, left 
them in the forest on his cloak, where they were 
found by a hermit who " toke and lapped them 
tenderly in his mantel and with al their chaines at 
their neckes he bare them into the litle hous of his 
hermitage, and there he warmed and sustened 
them of his poore goodnes as well as he coulde." 
Of these children, one excelled the others in 
beauty. The pious old man baptized the little 
babes, and called the one who surpassed the others 
by the name Helias. "And whan that they were 
in the age of theyr pleasaunt and fresshe grene 
yougth thei reane all about sporting and playinge 
in the said forest about the trees and floures." 

One day it fell out that a yeoman of Queen 

582 The Knight of the Swan 

Matabrune, whilst chasing in the forest, saw the 
seven children sitting under a tree eating wild 
apples, each with a silver chain about his neck. 
Then he told Matabrune of the marvel he had 
seen, and she at once concluded that these were 
her grandchildren ; wherefore she bade the yeoman 
take seven fellows with him and slay the children. 
But by the grace of God these men's hearts were 
softened, and, instead of murdering the little ones, 
they robbed them of their silver chains. But they 
only found six children, for the hermit had taken 
Helias with him on a begging excursion. Now, 
" as soone as their chaines were of, they were al 
transmued in an instaunt in faire white swannes by 
the divine grace, and began to flee in the ayre 
through the forest, making a piteous and lament- 
able crye." 

Helias grew up with his godfather in the forest. 
The story goes on to relate how that the hermit 
was told by an angel in vision whose the children 
were ; how a false charge was brought against 
Beatrice, and she was about to be executed, when 
Helias appeared in the lists, and by his valour 
proclaimed her innocence ; and how Matabrune's 
treachery was discovered. 

" But for to returne to the subject of the crony- 

The Knight of the Swan 583 

kill of the noble Helias knight of the swanne. It 
is to be noted that the said Helias knight of the 
swanne demanded of Kyng Oriant his father that 
it wolde please him to give him the chaines of 
silver of his brethern and sister, that the goldesmith 
had brought. The which he delivered him with 
good herte for to dispose them at his pleasure. 
Than he made an othe and sware that he wolde 
never rest tyll he had so longe sought by pondes 
and stagnes that he had founde his v brethren and 
his sister, which were transmued into swannes. 
But our Lorde that consoleth his freendes in 
exaltinge their good will shewed greatly his vertue. 
For in the river that ranne about the kinges palays 
appeared visibly the swannes before all the people. 
— And incontinent the kynge and the queene de- 
scended wyth many lordes, knightes, and gentilmen, 
and came with great diligence upon the water 
syde, for to see the above sayde swannes. The 
king and the queene behelde them piteousli in 
weeping for sorrow that they had to se theyr poore 
children so transmued into swannes. And whan 
they saw the good Helias come nere them they 
began to make a mervaylous feast and rejoyced 
them in the water. So he approched upon the 
brinke : and whan they sawe him nere them, they 

584 The Knight of the Swan 

came lightli fawning and flickering about him 
making him chere, and he playned lovingly their 
fethers. After he shewed them the chaynes of 
silver, whereby they set them in good ordre before 
him. And to five of them he remised the chaynes 
about their neckes, and sodeynlye they began to 
retourne to theyr propre humayne forme as they 
were before." But unfortunately the sixth chain 
had been melted to form a silver goblet, and there- 
fore one of the brothers was unable to regain his 
human shape. 

Helias spent some time with his father ; but a 
voice within his breast called him to further ad- 

" After certayne tyme that the victoryous kynge 
Helyas had posseded the Realme of Lyleforte in 
good peace and tranquilite of justice, it happened 
on a day as he was in his palais looking towarde 
the river that he apperceived the swanne, one of his 
brethren that was not yet tourned into his fourme 
humayne, for that his chaine was molten for to 
make Matabrune a cup. And the sayd swanne 
was in the water before a ship, the which he had 
led to the wharfe as abiding king Helias. An^H 
when Helias saw him, he saide in himselfe : Her^x 
is a signification that God sendeth to me for t( 

The Knight of the Swan 585 

shew to me that I ought to go by the guyding of 
this swanne into some countrey for to have honour 
and consolacion. 

"And when Helyas had mekelye taken his leave 
of all his parentes and freendes, he made to here his 
armures and armes of honoure into the shyppe, 
with hys target and his bright sheelde, of whiche as 
it is written the felde was of sylver, and thereon a 
double crosse of golde. So descended anon the 
sayd Helyas with his parentes and freendes, the 
which came to convey him unto the brinke of the 

About this time, Otho, Emperor of Germany, 
held court at Neumagen, there to decide between 
Clarissa, Duchess of Bouillon, and the Count of 
Frankfort, who claimed her duchy. It was decided 
that their right should be established by single 
combat. The Count of Frankfort was to appear 
in person in the lists, whilst the duchess was to 
provide some doughty warrior who would do battle 
for her. 

" Than the good lady as al abasshed loked 
aboute her if there were ony present that in her 
need wolde helpe her. But none wolde medle 
seynge the case to her imposed. Wherefore she 
committed her to God, praying Him humbly to 

586 The Knight of the Swan 

succour her, and reprove the injury that wickedl} 
to her was imposed by the sayd erle." 

The council broke up, and lords and ladies wen 
scattered along the banks of the Meuse. 

" So, as they stray'd, a swan they saw 

Sail stately up and strong, 
And by a silver chain she drew 

A little boat along, 
Whose streamer to the gentle breeze, 

Long floating, flutter'd light, 
Beneath whose crimson canopy 

There lay reclined a knight. 

" With arching crest and swelling breast 
On sail'd the stately swan, 
And lightly up the parting tide 

The little boat came on. 
And onward to the shore they drew, 

And leapt to land the knight. 
And down the stream the little boat 
Fell soon beyond the sight." 

SouTHEY's Rudiger. 

Of course this knight, who is Helias, fights the 
Count of Frankfort, overcomes him, and wins the 
heart of the daughter of the duchess. Thus Helias 
became Duke of Bouillon. 

But before marrying the lady, he warned her 
that if she asked his name, he would have to leave 

At the end of nine months, the wife of Helias 

The Knight of the Swan 587 

gave birth to a daughter, who was named Ydahi at 
the font, and who afterwards became the mother of 
Godfrey de Bouillon, King of Jerusalem, and of his 
brothers Baldwin and Eustace. 

One night the wife forgot the injunction of her 
husband, and began to ask him his name and 
kindred. Then he rebuked her sorrowfully, and 
leaving his bed, bade her farewell. Instantly the 
swan reappeared on the river, drawing the little 
shallop after it, and uttering loud cries to call 
its brother. So Helias stepped into the boat, and 
the swan swam with it from the sight of the 
sorrowing lady. 

The romance of Helias^ continues the story to 
the times of Godfrey de Bouillon, but I shall 
leave it at this point, as it ceases to deal with 
the myth which is the subject of this article. The 
story is very ancient and popular. It is told of 
Lohengrin, Loherangrin, Salvius, and Gerhard the 
Swan, whilst the lady is Beatrice of Cleves, or Else 
of Brabant. In the twelfth century it seems to 
have localized itself about the Lower Rhine. 

Probably the most ancient mention of the fable 

* Helyas, the Knight of the Swanne. From the edition 
of Copland, reprinted in Thorns : " Early Enghsh Prose 
Romances," 1858, vol. iii. 

588 The Knight of the Swan 

is that of William of Tyre (1180), who says : "We 
pass over, intentionally, the fable of the Swan, 
although many people regard it as a fact, that 
from it he (Godfrey de Bouillon) had his origin, 
because this story seems destitute of truth." Next 
to him to speak of the story is Helinandus (circ. 
1220), quoted by Vincent de Beauvais^: "In the 
diocese of Cologne, a famous and vast palace over- 
hangs the Rhine, it is called Juvamen. Thither 
when once many princes were assembled, suddenly 
there came up a skiff, drawn by a swan attached 
to it by a silver chain. Then a strange and un- 
known knight leaped out before all, and the swan 
returned with the boat. The knight afterwards 
married, and had children. At length, when dwell- 
ing in this palace, he saw the swan return again 
with the boat and chain : he at once re-entered the 
vessel, and was never seen again ; but his progeny 
remain to this day." 

A genealogy of the house of Flanders, in a MS. 
of the thirteenth century, states : " Eustachius venit 
ad Buillon ad domum ducissae, quae uxor erat 
militis, qui vocabatur miles Cigni *." Jacob van 

Specul. Nat. ii. 127. 
3 Reiftenberg, Le Chevalier au Cygne. Bruxelles, 1846 
p. viii. 

The Knight of the Swan 589 

Maerlant (b. 1235), in his"Spieghel HistoriaelV' 

alludes to it — 

" Logenaers niesdaet an doen, 
Dat si hem willen tien ane, 
Dat tie ridder metter swane 
Siere moeder vader was. 
No wijt no man, als ict vemam 
Ne was noint swane, daer hi af quam 
Als ist dat hem Brabanters beroemen 
Dat si van der Swane siin coemen." 

And Nicolaes de Klerc, who wrote in 13 18, thus 
refers to it in his " Brabantine Gests :" " Formerly 
the Dukes of Brabant have been much belied in 
that it is said of them that they came with a 
swanV And Jan Veldenar {1480) says: "Now, 
once upon a time, this noble Jungfrau of Cleves 
was on the banks by Nymwegen, and it was clear 
weather, and she gazed up the Rhine, and saw a 
strange sight : for there came sailing down a white 
swan with a gold chain about its neck, and by this 
it drew a little skiff . . ." — and so on. 

There is an Icelandic saga of Helis, the Knight 
of the Swan, translated from the French by the 
Monk Robert, in 1226. In the Paris royal library 
is a romance upon this subject, consisting of about 
30,000 lines, begun by a Renax or Renant, and 

* Maerlant, Fig. i. 29. 

* Von Wyn, Avondstonden, p. 270, 

590 The Knight of the Swan 

finished by a Gandor de Douay. In the Britisl 
Museum is a volume of French romances, contain^ 
ing, among others, " L'Ystoire du Chevalier ai 
Signe," told in not less than 3000 lines. 

The ^' Chevelere Asslgne," a shorter poem on th< 
same subject, was reprinted by M. Utterson for th< 
Roxburghe Club, from a MS. in the Cottoniai 
library, which has been quoted by Percy anc 
Warton as an early specimen of alliterative ver- 
sification. It is certainly not later than the reign 
of Henry VI. 

The next prose romance of Helias is that of 
Pierre Desrey, entitled " Les faictz et gestes du 
preux Godsffroy de Boulion, aussi plusieurs croni- 
ques et histoires ;" Paris, without date. " La 
Genealogie avecques les gestes et nobles faitz 
darmes du tres preux et renomme prince Godeffroy 
de Boulion : et de ses chevalereux freres Baudouin 
et Eustace : yssus et descendus de la tres noble et 
illustre lignee du vertueux Chevalier au Cyne ;" 
Paris, Jean Petit, 1504 ; also Lyons, 1580. This 
book was partly translated into English, and 
printed by Wynkyn de Worde, "The hystory of 
Hilyas Knight of the Swann, imprynted by 
Wynkyn de Worde," &c., 151^2 ; and in full by 
Caxton, under the title, " The last Siege and Con- 

The Knight of the Swan 591 

queste of Jherusalem, with many histories therein 
comprised ;" Westmester, fol. 1480. 

It is from the first thirty-eight chapters of the 
French "Faits et Gestes," that Robert Copland 
translated his Helias, which he dedicated " to the 
puyssant and illustrious prynce, lorde Edwarde, 
duke of Buckynghame," because he was lineally 
descended from the Knight of the Swan. This 
duke was beheaded, May 17th, 152 1. 

We need hardly follow the story in other trans- 

The romance, as we have it, is a compilation of 
at least two distinct myths. The one is that of 
the Swan-children, the other of the Swan-knight. 
The compiler of the romance has pieced the first 
legend to the second, in order to explain it. In its 
original form, the knight who came to Neumagen, 
or Cleves, in the swan-led boat, and went away 
again, was unaccounted for : who he was, no man 
knew ; and Heywood, in his " Hierarchies of the 
Blessed Angels," 1635, suggests that he was one 
of the evil spirits called incubi; but the romancer 
solved the mystery by prefixing to the story of his 
marriage with the duchess a story of transforma- 
tion, similar to that of Fionmala, referred to in the 
previous article. 

592 The Knight of the Swan 

We shall put aside the story of the swan-children, 
and confine our attention to the genuine myth. 

The home of the fable was that border-land where 
Germans and Kelts met, where the Nibelungen 
legends were brought in contact with the romances 
of Arthur and the SangreaL 

Lohengrin belongs to the round table ; the hero 
who releases Beatrice of Cleves is called Elias 
Grail. Pighius relates that in ancient annals it is 
recorded that Elias came from the blessed land of 
the earthly paradise, which is called Graele ^ And 
the name Helias, Helius, Elis, or Salyius, is but a 
corruption of the Keltic ala, eala, ealadh, a swan. 
I believe the story of the Knight of the Swan to 
be a myth of local Brabantine origin. That it is not 
the invention of the romancer is evident from the 
variations in the tale, some of which we must now 

I. Lohengrin. 

The Duke of Limburg and Brabant died leaving 
an only daughter. Else or Elsam. On his death- 
bed he committed her to the care of Frederick von 
Telramund, a brave knight, who had overcome a 
dragon in Sweden. After the duke's death, Frede- 

* Hercules Prodicus, Colon. 1609. 



Tlie Knight of the Swan 593 

rick claimed the hand of Else, on the plea that it 
had been promised him ; but when she refused it, 
he appealed to the emperor, Henry the Fowler, 
asking permission to assert his right in the lists 
against any champion Else might select. 

Permission was granted, and the duchess looked 
in vain for a knight who would fight in her cause 
against the redoubted Frederick of Telramund. 

Then, far away, in the sacred temple of the 
Grail, at Montsalvatsch, tolled the bell, untouched 
by human hands, a signal that help was needed. 
At once Lohengrin, son of Percival, was sent to the 
rescue, but whither to go he knew not. He stood 
foot in stirrup, ready to mount, when a swan 
appeared on the river drawing a ship along. No 
sooner did Lohengrin behold this, than he ex- 
claimed: "Take back the horse to its stable; I 
will go with the bird whither it shall lead!" 

Trusting in God, he took no provision on board. 
After he had been five days on the water, the swan 
caught a fish, ate half, and gave the other half to 
the knight. 

In the mean while the day of ordeal approached, 
and Else fell into despair. But at the hour when 
the lists were opened, there appeared the boat 
dravv^n by the silver swan ; and in the little vessel 

Q q 

594 The Knight of the Swan 

lay Lohengrin asleep upon his shield. The swc 
drew the boat to the landing, the knight awol 
sprang ashore, and then the bird swam away wit 
the vessel. 

Lohengrin, as soon as he heard the story of tl 
misfortunes of the Duchess Else, undertook to figl 
for her. The knight of the Grail prevailed, and sl( 
Frederick. Then Else surrendered herself and h< 
duchy to him ; but he would only accept her hand 
on condition that she should not ask his race. For 
some time they lived together happily. One day, 
in a tournament, he overthrew the Duke of Cleves 
and broke his arm, whereat the Duchess of Cleves 
exclaimed : " This Lohengrin may be a strong man 
and a Christian, but who knows whence he has 
sprung!" These words reached the ears of the 
Duchess of Brabant ; she coloured and hung her 

At night, Lohengrin heard her sobbing. He 
asked: "My love, what ails thee V^ 

She replied : "The Duchess of Cleves has wounded 

Lohengrin asked no more. 

Next night she wept again ; her husband again 
asked the reason, and received the same answer. 

On the third night she burst forth with: "Husband, 

The Knight of the Swan 595 

be not angry, but I must know whence you have 

Then Lohengrin told her that his father was 
Percival, and that God had sent him from the cus- 
tody of the Grail. And he called his children to 
him, and said, kissing them : "Here are my horn 
and my sword, keep them carefully ; and here, my 
wife, is the ring my mother gave me — never part 
with it." 

Now, at break of day, the swan reappeared on 
the river, drawing the little shallop. Lohengrin 
re-entered the boat, and departed never to return. 

Such is the story in the ancient German poem of 
Lohengrin, published by Gorres from a MS. in the 
Vatican ; and in the great Percival of Wolfram von 
Eschenbach, verses 24,614 — 24,715. 

2. The swan-knight of Conrad von Wiirzburg re- 
sembles Lohengrin and Helias in the outline of the 
story, but no name is given to the hero. He marries 
the daughter of the deceased Duke Gottfried of 
Brabant, and fights against the Duke of Saxony. 
His children are the ancestors of the great houses of 
Gelders and Cleves, which bear a swan as their arms. 

3. Gerard Swan. 

One day Charlemagne stood at his window 
overlooking the Rhine. Then he was ware of a 
Q q 2 

596 The Knight of the Swan 

swan floating on the water, drawing a boat by- 
silken band fastened round its neck. When th| 
boat came alongside of the quay, the swan cease( 
to row, and the emperor saw that a knight armec 
cap-a-pie sat in the skiff, and round his neck hunj 
a ribbon to which was attached a note. Navilon 
(Nibelung), one of the emperor's men, gave the 
stranger his hand to help him out of the bark, and 
conducted him to Charlemagne. The monarch in- 
quired of the stranger his name ; for answer he 
pointed to the letter on his breast. This the king 
read. It stated that Gerard Swan sought a wife 
and lands. 

Navilon then unarmed the strange knight, and 
the king gave him a costly mantle. So they went 
to table. But when Roland observed the man, he 
asked who he was. Charlemagne replied, " He is a 
godsend ;" and Roland observed, " He seems to be 
a man of courage." 

Gerard proved to be a worthy knight ; he served 
the monarch well. He soon learned to talk. The 
king was very fond of him, and gave him his sister 
Adalis in marriage, and made him Duke of 
Ardennes '. 

7 Northern Chapbooks of the Emperor Charlemagne. 
Nyerup, Morskabslasning, p. oo. 

The Knight of the Swan 597 

4. Helias. 

In the year 711 lived Beatrice only daughter of 
Dietrich, Duke of Cleves, at her castle of Nymwe- 
gen. One bright day she sat at her window looking 
down the Rhine, when she saw a swan drawing a 
boat by a gold chain. In this vessel was Helias. 
He came ashore, won her heart, became Duke of 
Cleves, and lived happily with her for many years. 
One thing alone interfered with her happiness : she 
knew not whence her husband came, and he had 
strictly forbidden her to ask. But once she broke 
his command, and asked him whence he had come 
to her. Then he gave his children his sword, his 
horn, and his ring, bidding them never separate or 
lose these legacies, and entering the boat which 
returned for him, he vanished for ever ^ One of 
the towers of Cleves is called, after this event, the 
Swan-tower, and is surmounted by a swan. 

5. Salvius Brabo. 

Gottfried-Carl was King of Tongres, and lived at 
Megen on the Maas. He had a son named Carl- 
Ynach, whom he banished for some misdemeanour. 
Carl-Ynach fled to Rome, where he fell in love 
with Germana, daughter of the Proconsul Lucius 

* Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, i866, ii p. 267. 

598 The Knight of the Swan 

Julius, and fled with her from the eternal 
city. They took ship to Venice, whence they 
travelled on horseback to Burgundy, and reached 
Cambray. Thence they proceeded to a place called 
Senes, and finding a beautiful valley, they di 
mounted to repose. Here a swan, at which one 
the servants aimed an arrow, took refuge in th^ 
arms of Germana, who, delighted at the incident, 
asked Carl-Ynach the name of the bird in his 
native tongue. He replied " Swana." " Then," 
said she, "let me be henceforth called by that 
name, lest, if I keep my former name, I be re- 
cognized and parted from thee." 

The lady took the swan with her as they pro- 
ceeded on their journey, and fed it from her hand. 

They now reached Florimont, near Brussels, and 
there Carl-Ynach heard that his father was dead. 
He was therefore King of Tongres. Shortly after 
his arrival at Megen, his wife gave birth to a son, 
whom he named Octavian, and next year to a 
daughter, whom they called Swan. Shortly after, 
Ariovistus, King of the Saxones, waged war against 
Julius Caesar. Carl-Ynach united his forces with 
those of Ariovistus, and fell in the battle of 
Besangon. Swan, his widow, then fled with his 
children and her husband's body to Megen, fearing 



The Knight of the Swan 599 

her brother Julius Caesar. There she buried Carl- 
Ynach, and daily fed her swan upon his grave. 

In the Roman army was a hero, Salvius Brabon 
by name, descended from Frankus, son of Hector 
of Troy. Csesar rested at Cleves, and Salvius 
Brabon amused himself with shooting birds in the 
neighbourhood. One day he wandered to the 
banks of the Rhine. On its discoloured waters 
swam a snow-white swan, playfully pulling at the 
rope which bound a small skiff to the shore. 
Salvius leaped into the boat, and cast it loose from 
its mooring. Then the bird swam before him as a 
guide, and he rowed after it. On reaching the 
castle of Megen, the swan rose from the water, and 
flew to the grave of Carl-Ynach, where its mistress 
was wont to feed it. Salvius pursued it, bow in 
hand, and was about to discharge an arrow, when 
a window of the castle opened, and a lady cried to 
him in Latin to spare the bird. Salvius consented ; 
and casting aside his bow and arrow, entered the 
castle. There he learned the story of the lady. 
He hastened to Julius Caesar, and told him that 
his sister was in the neighbourhood. The con- 
queror accompanied Salvius to the castle, and 
embraced Germana with joy. Salvius Brabon then 
asked the emperor to give him the young damsel 

600 The Knight of the Swan 

Swan in marriage, and he readily complied with 
the request, creating him at the same time Duke 
of Brabant ; Octavian took the name of Ger- 
manicus, and became King of Cologne, and 
Tongres exchanged its name for Germania, after 
the sister of the emperor, its queen ^ 

It was in commemoration of the beautiful myth 
of the Swan-knight, that Frederick 11. of Branden- 
burg instituted the Order of the Swan, in 1440. 
The badge was a chain from which was suspended 
an image of the Virgin, and underneath that a 
swan. The badge of the Cleves order of knight- 
hood was also a silver swan suspended from a gold 
chain. In 1453, -Duke Adolph of. Cleves held a 
tournament at Lille, "au nom du Chevalier au 
Cygne, serviteur des dames." 

On the 13th May, 1548, the Count of Cleves 
presented the players with a silver swan of con- 
siderable value. Charles, Duke of Cleves, attempted, 
in 1 615, to revive the order of the swan. When 
Cleves fell to Prussia, the Count de Bar endea- 
voured to persuade Frederick the Great to resusci- 
tate the order, but in vain. With Anne of Cleves, 
the white swan passed to our tavern signboards. 

' Jehan le Maire, Illustrations de Gaule. Paris, 1548, iii. 
pp. 20-23. 

The Knight oj the Swan 601 

The myth is a Belgic religious myth. Just as 
in the Keltic legends of the Fortunate Isles, we 
hear of mortals who went by ship to the Avalon of 
Spirits, and then returned to their fellow-mortals ; 
so in this Belgic fable we have a denizen of the 
distant paradise coming by boat to this inhabited 
land, and leaving it again. 

In the former legends the happy mortal lives in 
the embraces of a divine being in perpetual youth ; 
in the latter, a heavenly being unites himself, for 
a while, to a woman of earth, and becomes the 
ancestor of an aristocracy. 

An Anglo-Saxon story bears some traces of the 
same legend. A ship once arrived on the coast of 
Scandia, without rudder or sail ; in it lay a boy 
asleep upon his arms. The natives took and 
educated him, calHng him Scild, the son of Sceaf 
(the skiff). In course of time he became their 
king. In Beowulf, it is added that Scild reigned 
long ; and when he saw that he was about to die, 
he bade his men lay him fully armed in a boat, 
and thrust him out to sea. Among the Norse 
such a practice was not unknown. King Haki, 
when he died, was laid in a ship, the vessel fired, 
and sent out upon the waves. And the same is 
told of Baldur. But the shipping of the dead had 

602 The Knight of the Swan 

no significance in Scandinavian mythology, whilst 
it was full of meaning in that of the Kelts. The 
Scandinavian Valhalla was not situated beyond 
the Western Sea, but on the summit of a great 
mountain ; whereas the Keltic Avalon lay over the 
blue waters, beneath the setting sun. Conse- 
quently, I believe the placing of the dead in ships 
to have been a practice imported among the 
Northern and Germanic nations, and not indi- 
genous \ 

The classic fable of Helios sailing in his golden 
vessel deserves notice in connexion with the myth 
of Helias. That the sun and moon travel in boats 
of silver or gold is an idea common to many 
mythologies. At first sight it seems probable that 
Helias is identical with Helios ; but the difficulty 
of explaining how this classic deity should have 
become localized in Brabant is insurmountable, 
and I prefer the derivation of the name Helias 
from the Keltic appellation of the swan. 

The necessity of the knight leaving his bride the 
moment she inquired his race connects this story 
with the Grail myth. According to the rules of 
the order of the Sangreal, every knight was bound 
to return to the temple of the order, immediately 

^ Appendix D. 

The K flight of the Swan 603 

that any one asked his Hneage and office. In the 
popular legend this reason does not appear, because 
the Grail was a genuine Keltic myth, with its roots 
in the mysteries of Druidism. 

Of the different editions of Lohengrin, Helias, 
and the other Swan-knight legends, I will give no 
list, as the principal are referred to in the notes of 
this article. 

^f)e Sartgteal 

\T /"HEN Sir Lancelot came to the palace of 
^ ^ King Pelles, in the words of Sir Thomas 
Malory*, "either of them made much of other, and 
so they went into the castle for to take their repast. 
And anon there came in a dove at the window, and 
in her bill there seemed a little sencer of gold, and 
therewith there was such a savour as though all 
the spicery of the world had been there ; and forth- 
with all there was upon the table all manner of 
meates and drinkes that they could thinke upon. 
So there came a damosell, passing faire and young, 
and she beare a vessell of gold betweene her hands, 
and thereto the king kneeled devoutly and said 
his prayers, and so did all that were there : ' Oh, 
Jesu !' said Sir Launcelot, * what may this meane ?* 

^ La Mort d'Arthure, compiled by Sir Thomas Malory ; 
reprinted from the text of 1634 by Thomas Wright, iii., c. ?, 

The Sanzreal 605 


'This is,' said King Pelles, 'the richest thing that 
any man hath living ; and when this thing goeth 
about, the round-table shall bee broken. And wit 
yee well,' said King Pelles, 'that this is the holy 
Sancgreall which yee have heere seene.' " 

The next to see the sacred vessel was the pious 
Sir Bors. And after that he had seen it, " he was 
led to bed into a faire large chamber, and many 
doores were shut about that chamber. And when 
Sir Bors espied all those doores, he made all the 
people to avoide, for he might have no body with 
him ; but in no wise Sir Bors would unarme him, 
but so laid him upon the bed. And right so he 
saw come in a light that he might wel see a 
speare great and long which come straight upon 
him pointlong. And so Sir Bors seemed that the 
head of the speare brent like a taper ; and anon, or 
Sir Bors wist, the speare head smote him into the 
shoulder an hand breadth in deepness, and that 
wound grieved Sir Bors passing sore." 

One day, when King Arthur and his court were 
at Camelot, sitting at supper, "anon they heard 
cracking and crying of thunder, that hem thought 
the place should all to-rive ; in the midst of the 
blast entred a sunne-beame more clear by seaven 
times than ever they saw day, and all they were 

606 The Sangreal 

alighted by the grace of the Holy Ghost. Then 
began every knight to behold other, and either 
saw other by their seeming fairer than ever they 
saw afore, nor for then there was no knight that 
might speake any word a great while ; and so they 
looked every man on other as they had beene 
dombe. Then there entred into the hall the holy 
grale covered with white samite, but there was 
none that might see it, nor who beare it, and there 
was all the hall fulfilled with good odours, and 
every knight had such meate and drinke as he 
best loved in this world ; and when the holy grale 
had beene borne through the hall, then the holy 
vessel departed suddenly, and they wist not where 
it became." 

Then the knights stood up in their places one 
after another, and vowed to go in quest of the 
Sangreal, and not to return to the round-table till 
they had obtained a full view of it. 

We must leave the knights to start upon their 
quest, and turn, for the history of the Grail, to the 
romance of the San Greal, the Perceval of Chretien 
de Troyes, written at the close of the twelfth cen- 
tury, and the Titurel and Parcival of Wolfram von 
Eschenbach, translated into German from romances 
older than that of Chretien de Troyea 

The Sangrcal 607 

When Christ was transfixed by the spear, 
there flowed from His side blood and water. Joseph 
of Arimathaea collected the blood in the vessel 
from which the Saviour had eaten the last supper. 
The enraged Jews cast Joseph into prison, and left 
him to die of hunger. But for forty-two years he 
lay in the dungeon nourished and invigorated by the 
sacred vessel which was in his possession. Titus 
released Joseph from prison, and received baptism 
at his hands. Then Joseph started with the vessel 
and the blood, or the Sangreal, for Britain. Before 
he died, he confided the sacred treasure to his 
nephew. But according to another version of the 
legend, the Grail was preserved in heaven, till there 
should appear on earth a race of heroes, worthy to 
become its guardians. The chief of this line was 
an Asiatic prince, named Perillus, who came to 
Gaul, where his descendants allied themselves with 
the family of a Breton prince. Titurel, who sprang 
from this heroic lineage, was the one chosen of God 
to found the worship of the Sangreal among the 
Gauls. Angels brought the vessel to him, and in- 
structed him in its mysteries. He erected, on the 
model of the temple at Jerusalem, a magnificent 
temple to the Grail. He organized a band of 
guardians of the vessel, and elaborated the cere- 

608 The Sajigreal 

monial of its worship. The Grail, we are told, was 
only visible to the baptized, and only partially if 
they were tainted by sin. To the pure in heart, 
alone was it perfectly visible. 

Every Good Friday a white dove descendec 
from heaven, bearing a white oblation which it laic 
before the Grail. The holy vessel gave oracles, ex- 
pressed miraculously in characters which appearec 
on the surface of the bowl, and then vanishedj 
Spiritual blessings attended on the vision and cus- 
tody of the sacred vessel ; the guardians, and those 
who were privileged to behold it, were conscious of a 
mysterious internal joy, a foretaste of that of heaven. 
The material blessings are easier to be described. 
The Grail stood in the place of all food, it supplied 
its worshippers with the meats they most desired 
and the drinks most to their taste ; it maintained 
them in perpetual youth. The day on which the 
Grail had been seen, its guardians were incapable of 
being wounded or suffering any hurt. If they 
fought for eight days after the vision, they were 
susceptible of wounds but not of death. 

Every thing in the construction of the temple 
was full of mystery. It was erected on Montsal- 
vatsch, of precious stones, gold, and aloe- wood. In 
form it was circular; there were three principal 

The Sangreal 609 

entrances. The knights who watched the Grail were 
patterns of virtue. All sensual love, even within 
the limits of marriage, was strictly forbidden. A 
single thought of passion would obscure the eye 
and conceal the mystic vessel. The chief of this 
order of knights was entitled King. As his office 
was hereditary, he was permitted to marry. 

When the faith or the right was in jeopardy, a 
bell rang in the chapel of the Grail, and a knight 
was bound to go forth sword in hand to the defence. 
Wherever he was, should a question be asked him 
of his condition or office in the temple, he was to 
refuse to answer, and at once to return to Montsal- 

Titurel reigned four hundred years, and he, to all 
appearances, seemed of the age of forty. He was 
succeeded in his office by his son Frimutelle, who 
transgressed, by loving a damsel, Floramie by name. 
Consequently he lost the grace of the holy Grail, 
and fell in a joust, engaged in to give pleasure 
and do honour to his mistress. 

He was succeeded by his son Amfortas, who fell 
into grievous sin, and was given over by the Grail 
to be wounded by a lance. Then it was announced 
that he should not be healed of his wound till one 
came, pure and young, to Montsalvatsch who would 

R r 

le ^iangreai 

see the mysteries of the sacred vessel, and 
their signification. 

This Amfortas is the Pelles or Pellam of tl 
" Mort d'Arthure." 

Years passed, and the king lay wounded in 
palace. The brotherhood of the Grail was dissolve 
and the existence of the temple and its mystic rite 
was almost forgotten. Sir Thomas Malory gives a 
different account of the wounding of the king from 
that in the Romans du San Greal, and makes his 
healing depend on the arrival of a knight who is a 
" clean maid," who shall apply to him the sacred 

In the fulness of time, Galahad, the Good Knight, 
came to king Arthur's court, and went forth, with 
the other knights, to the quest of the holy Grail. 

Let us follow Launcelot who was on a ship. 

" The winde arose and drove Sir Launcelot more 
than a moneth throughout the sea, where he slept 
but little and prayed unto God that he might have 
a sight of the Sancgreall. So it befell upon a 
night at midnight hee arived afore a castle on the 
backe side, which was rich and faire, and there 
was a posterne that opened toward the sea, and 
was open without any keeping, save two lions 
kept the entrie, and the moone shined cleare. 

The Sangreal 611 

"Anon Sir Launcelot heard a voice that said, 
* Launcelot, goe out of this ship, and enter into the 
castle where thou shalt see a great part of thy de- 
sire.' Then he ranne to his armes, and armed him, 
and so hee went unto the gate, and saw the two 
lions ; then hee set hands to his sword and drew it ; 
then came there sudainly a dwarfe, that smote him 
upon the arme so sone that the sword fell out of his 
hand. Then he heard a voice that said, ' Oh man of 
evill faith and poore beliefe, wherefore believest 
thou more in thy harneis than in thy Maker } for 
Hee might more availe thee than thine armour, in 
whose service thou art set' — Thne Sir Launcelot 
entered in so armed, and hee found no gate nor doore 
but it was opened. And so at the last he found a 
chamber whereof the doore was shut, and hee set 
his hands thereto for to have opened it, but hee 
might not. Then he enforced him much for to un- 
doe the doore. Then he listened ; and heard a voice 
which sung so sweetly, that it seemed none earthly 
thing, and him thought that the voice said, 'Joy and 
honour be to the Father of heaven.' Then Sir 
Launcelot kneeled downe before the chamber, for 
well he wist that there was the Sancgreall in that 
chamber. Then said he, *Faire sweete Father, 
Jesu Christ, if ever I did thing that pleased the 
R r 2 

613 TJie Sangreal 

Lord, for thy pittie ne have me not in despite f< 
my foull sins done here before time, and that thou 
shew me some thing of that which I seek.' 

" And with that he saw the chamber doo: 
open, and there came out a great cleareness 
that the house was as bright as though all the 
torches of the world had beene there. So came 
hee to the chamber doore, and would have entered, 
and anon a voice said unto him, 'Flee, Sir 
Launcelot, and enter not, for thou oughtest not 
to doe it, and if thou enter thou shalt forethinke 
it' And hee withdrew him back, and was right 
heavie in his mind. 

" Then looked hee up in the midst of the chamber, 
and saw a table of silver, and the holy vessell 
covered with red samite, and many angels about it, 
whereof one of them held a candell of waxe burn- 
ing, and the other held a crosse, and the ornaments 
of the altar. And before the holy vessell hee saw 
a good man clothed like a priest, and it seemed 
that hee was at the sakering of the masse ; and it 
seemed unto Sir Launcelot that above the priest's 
hands there were three men, whereof the two put 
the youngest by likeness betweenethe priest's hands, 
and so hee lift it up on high, and it seemed to shew 
so to the people. And then Sir Launcelot mer- 


The Sangreal 613 

vailed not a little, for him thought that the priest 
was so greatly charged of the figure, that him 
seemed that heem should have fallen to the ground ; 
and when hee saw none about him that would helpe 
him, then hee came to the doore a great pace — and 
entred into the chamber, and came toward the 
table of silver ; and when he came nigh he felt a 
breath, that him thought was intermedled with fire, 
which smote him so sore in the visage that him 
thought it all to-brent his visage, and therewith hee 
fell to the ground, and had no power to arise." 

Sir Galahad, Sir Percival, and Sir Bors met in the 
forest, and rode together to the castle of King Pelles. 
There they supped, and after supper they beheld 

4 a great light, and in the light were four 
angels bearing up an ancient man in bishop's 
vestments, and they set him down before a 
table of silver, on which appeared the San- 
greal. And this aged prelate was Joseph 
!of Arimathaea, " the first bishop of Christen- 
dom." Then other angels appeared bearing 
candles, and a spear from which fell drops 
of blood, and these drops were collected 
by an angel in a box. Then the angels 
set the candles upon the table, and " the 
fourth set the holy speare even upright 


The Sangreal 

upon the vessel," as represented on an anciei 
churchyard crucifix, in rude sculpture, at Sancreed, 
in Cornwall. 

Joseph next celebrated the sacred mysteries, 
and, at the consecration, our Blessed Lord appeared 
and said, "Galahad, sonne, wotest thou what I 
hold between My hands?" "Nay," replied the 
maiden knight, " but if yee tell mee." " This is," 
He said, " the holy dish wherein I eate the lambe 
on Sher-Thursday, and now hast thou seene that 
thou desirest most to see, but yet hast thou not 
seene it so openly as thou shalt see it in the citie 
of Sarras, in the spirituall place. Therefore thou 
must goe hence, and beare with thee this holy 
vessell, for this night it shall depart from the 
realme of Logris, that it shall never be seen more 

So Galahad, after having anointed the wounded 
king with the blood which dropped from the spear, 
and made him whole, departed with his friends 
Bors and Perceval to the mystic city of Sarras, 
where he was made king. 

The story is somewhat different in the Perceval 
of Chretien de Troyes. This romance was com- 
menced by Chretien at the request of Phillip of 
Alsace, Count of Flanders ; it was continued by 

The Sangreal 615 

Gauthier de Denet, and finished by Manessier, 
towards the close of the twelfth century. It is 
the history of the quest of the San Greal. 

Perceval was the son of a poor widow in Wales, 
brought up by her in a forest, far removed from all 
warlike images. One day he saw a knight ride 
past, and from that moment he had no rest, till his 
mother gave him arms and let him ride to the 
court of King Arthur. On his way he saw a tent 
in which lay a beautiful damsel asleep. Perceval 
took the ring from her finger, ate and drank at 
the table which was spread in the tent, and then 
pursued his course. As he entered the court at 
Cardueil, a felon knight stole the goblet from the 
king's table. Perceval went in pursuit. One 
evening he entered a castle where lay a sick king 
on a couch. The door of the hall opened, and 
there came in a servant bearing a bleeding lance, 
others with golden candlesticks, and finally the 
holy Grail. Perceval asked no questions, and was 
reproached on his leaving the castle for not making 
inquiries into the mystery of the Grail. After- 
wards he undertook the quest of this marvellous 
vessel, but had great difficulty in finding again the 
castle of the wounded king. When his search was 
crowned with success, he asked the signification of 

616 The Sangreal 

the mystic rite which took place before his eyes, 
and was told that the king was a Fisher, descended 
from Joseph of Arimathaea, and uncle of Perceval ; 
that the spear was that which had pierced the 
Saviour's side, and that the Grail was the vessel in 
which the sacred blood of Christ had been col- 
lected. The king had been wounded in trying to 
mend a sword which had been broken by a knight 
named Pertinax, and which could only be welded 
together by a knight without fear and reproach. 
The Fisher-king would recover health only when 
Pertinax died. On hearing this, Perceval sought 
out and slew Pertinax, healed his uncle, obtained 
in return the sacred vessel and the bleeding lance, 
and retired to a hermitage. On his death — 

" Fut au ciel remis sans doutance 
Et le Saint-Graal et la Lance." 

It is very certain that Chretien de Troyes was 
not the inventor of this mystic tale, for there 
exists in the "Red Book" a Welsh tale entitled 
Pheredur, which is indisputably the original of 

The " Red Book " is a volume of Welsh prose 
and verse romances and tales, begun in the year 
1318, and finished in 1454. It is preserved in the 

The Sangreal 617 

library of Jesus College, Oxford. Although Phe- 
redur was transcribed after Perceval was composed, 
it bears evidence of a higher antiquity. 

Pheredur is not a Christian. His habits are 
barbarous. The Grail is not a sacred Christian 
vessel, but a mysterious relic of a past heathen 
rite. The same incidents occur in Perceval as in 
Pheredur, but in the former they are modified and 
softened, and various points indicative of barbarism 
and paganism are omitted. 

Pheredur enters a castle, and "Whilst he and 
his uncle were discoursing together, they beheld 
two young men entering the hall, bearing a lance 
of unusual length, from the point of which dis- 
tilled three gouts of gore ; and when the company 
beheld this, they began to wail and lament. But 
the old man continued to talk with Pheredur ; and 
as he did not tell Pheredur the reason of what 
took place, Pheredur did not venture to ask him. 
And when the cries ceased, there entered two 
damsels with a basin in which was the head of a 
man swimming in blood. Then the company 
uttered a piercing wail." 

In the Perceval, and in the Mort d'Arthure, the 
head is omitted, and to the lance and grail are 
attributed a Christian value ; but in the Pheredur 

618 The Sangreal 

there is no trace whatever of these symbols having 
any Christian signification. 

Pheredur signifies, according to M. de la Ville- 
marque ^ " The Companion of the Basin," and is a 
synonym of Perceval ; Per being a basin, and Keval 
and Kedur having alike the meaning of companion. 

Pheredur is mentioned as well in the Annales 
Cambrise, which extend from the year 444 to 1066. 
Geoffrey of Monmouth also speaks of the reign of 
Peredure, "who governed the people with gene- 
rosity and mildness, so that he even excelled his 
other brothers who had preceded him ^;" and the 
anonymous author of the " Life of Merlin" speaks of 
him as the companion and consoler of the bard*. 
Aneurin, the contemporary of Hengst and Horsa, 
the author of the Gododin, terms him one of the 
most illustrious princes of the Isle of Britain '\ 

Taliesin ben Beirdd, the famous poet of the same 
age, speaks of the sacred vessel in a manner which 
connects it with bardic mythology. " This vessel," 
he says, "inspires poetic genius, gives wisdom, 
discovers the knowledge of futurity, the mysteries 

2 Les Romans de la Table-Ronde 1861. 

3 Geoffr. Monm., lib. iii. c. i8. 
•* Vita Merlini, pp. 2. 4. 

* Villemarque, Poemes des Bardes Bretons du sixieme 
siecle, p. 298. 

The Sangreal 619 

of the world, the whole treasure of human sciences." 
And he describes it as adorned like the Grail, with a 
beading of pearls and diamonds ^ One of his poems 
contains the history of Bran the Blessed, in which 
the mystic vessel occupies a prominent position. 

One day, whilst hunting in Ireland, Bran arrived 
on the banks of a lake, called the Lake of the 
Basin. He saw there a black and hideous giant, 
a witch, and a dwarf, rise from the water holding a 
vessel in their hands. He persuaded them to 
accompany him to Wales, where he lodged them 
in his palace, and in return for his hospitality, 
received the basin. This vase had the property of 
healing all mortal ills, of staunching blood, of re- 
suscitating the dead. But those who were restored 
to life by \t were not enabled to speak, lest they 
should divulge the mysteries of the vessel. At a 
banquet given by Bran to Martholone, King of Ire- 
land, the Welsh prince presented the bowl to his 
guest. He regretted that he had made this present, 
when some years later war broke out between the 
King of Ireland and himself. Then he found him- 
self unable to cope with his adversary, whose every 
slain soldier recovered life by means of the sacred 
vessel. But Bran smote off the head of a hostile 

* Mywrian, i. pp. 17, 1 8, 19, 20. 37. 45. 67. 

620 The Sangreal 

chief, and cast the bloody head into the bowl, when 

it burst, and its virtues ceased. 

This basin was reckoned as one of the thirteen 
wonders of the Isle of Britain, brought by Merdhyn, 
or Merlin, in his crystal ark. That it is the same 
as Ceridwen's cauldron is not improbable. Cerid- 
wen was the Keltic Great Mother, the Demeter, 
the source of life, and the receptacle of the dead. 
The story of her cauldron is told in the Pair 
Ceridwen (vessel of Ceridwen), or Hanes Taliesin 
(History of Taliesin). 

In ancient times there was a man, Tegid Voel 
by name, who had a wife called Ceridwen, by 
whom he had a son Morvran ap Tegid, and a 
daughter Creirwy, both very beautiful ; also 
Aragddu, the most hideous of beings. Ceridwen, 
knowing that the poor deformed child would have 
little joy of life, determined to prepare for him 
the Water of Inspiration. She placed a cauldron 
on a fire, filled it with the requisite ingredients,] 
and left little Gwion to attend to its seething, and 
blind Morda to keep up the fire for a year and a 
day, without suffering the operation to cease for a 
moment. One day, near the end of the twelve- 
month, three drops spirted out of the bubbling 
liquid, and Gwion caught them on his finger. As 

The Sangreal 621 

they scalded him, he put his finger into his mouth, 
and at once obtained the knowledge of futurity. 
He saw that Ceridwen would attempt his death, 
in consequence of his having tasted the precious 
drops ; so he prudently took to flight. Then the 
cauldron burst and extinguished the fire. 

Ceridwen, in her rage, struck Morda on the head, 
and rushed in pursuit of Gwion the Little. He 
transformed himself into a hare ; then she took the 
form of a hound. He sprang into a river and took 
that of a fish ; instantly she became an otter. 
Then he rose from the water as a little bird ; but 
she soared after him as a hawk. Then he dropped 
as a grain of wheat on a corn-heap ; but Ceridwen, 
instantly taking the shape of a hen, swallowed him. 
She became pregnant thereby, and in nine months 
gave birth to a lovely child which she hid in a 
leather coracle and committed to the waves, on the 
29th of April. 

In this bardic tale we have certainly a very ancient 
Keltic myth. What the cauldron signifies it is 
difficult to ascertain. Some suppcse it to represent 
the ocean, others the working of the vital force of 
earth, which produces the three seasons which are 
good, symbolized by the drops. But we know too 
little of druidic mythology, and those legends which 

622 The Sangreal 

have come to ushave descended in a too altered form, 
for us to place much confidence in such conjectures. 

But that this vessel of the liquor of Wisdom held 
a prominent place in British mythology is certain 
from the allusions made to it by the bards. 
Taliesin, in the description of this initiation into 
the mysteries of the basin, cries out, " I have lost 
my speech !" because on all who had been admitted 
to the privileges of full membership secrecy was im- 
posed. This initiation was regarded as a new birth; 
and those who had once become joined members 
were regarded as elect, regenerate, separate from the 
rest of mankind, who lay in darkness and ignorance. 

That originally the ceremonies of initiation in- 
cluded human sacrifices is more than probable 
from the vessel being represented as containing 
human blood, and a lance forming part of the 
paraphernalia, from which dropped blood. In the 
story of Pheredur, the vessel contained a man's head 
floating in gore. In that of Bran the Blessed, the 
head is thrown into the basin to destroy its efficacy. 
Taliesin also refers to Pheredur as " the hero of the 
bleeding head T 

The lance is also referred to by Welsh authors. 
One of the predictions attributed to Taliesin holds 
"^ Myvyrian, i. p. So. 

The Sangreal 623 

out to the Britons the hope that " the Kingdom of 

Logres (England) shall perish before the bleeding 

lance ;" and five centuries later, Chretien de Troyes 

quotes this saying — 

"II est ecrit qu'il est une heure, 
Oil tout le royaume de Logres, 
Qui jadis fut la terre es Ogres, 
Sera detruit par cette lance." 

This lance was probably a symbol of war. 

The first to adapt the druidic mystery to Chris- 
tianity was a British hermit, who wrote a Latin 
legend on the subject. Helinandus (d. \^%']) says, 
"At this time (a.D. 720), in Britain, a marvellous 
vision was shown by an angel to a certain hermit : 
it was of the basin or paropsis in which the Saviour 
supped with His disciples ; concerning which the 
history was written by the same hermit, which is 
called the Gradal." And he adds, "In French 
they give the name gradal, or graal, to a large, 
rather deep vessel, in which rich meats with their 
gravy are served to the wealthy ^" 

The date at which lived this anchorite is not 
certain, for though Helinandus says he had his 
vision in 730, Usher places him later than 1140'. 

After the composition of this legend, the roman- 

* Vincent. Belov. Speculum Hist., lib. xxiii. c. 147. 
' Usserius, Primordia, p. 16. 

624 The Sangreal 

cers took possession of the myth and adapted it 
to Christian chivalrous exigencies. The bardic 
table of the elect became the round-table of 
Arthur's knights, and the sacred vessel of mysteries 
became the Grail. The head of the victim was 
forgotten, and the sacrificial blood was supposed 
to be that of Christ. 

It is likely that the tradition of the ancient 
druidic brotherhood lingered on and gained con- 
sistency again among the Templars. Just as the 
Miles Templi fought for the holy sepulchre, so did 
the soldier of Montsalvatsch for the holy Grail. 
Both orders were vowed to chastity and obedience, 
both were subject to a head, who exercised regal 
authority. The ancient temple of the Grail, like 
Stonehenge, was circular ; so also were the churches 
dedicated to S. Sepulchre, by the soldier-monks. 
The charge of heresy was brought against the order 
of the Templars, and it has been supposed that they 
were imbued with gnosticism. That this Eastern 
heresy should have influenced a mediaeval Western 
society, I think very unlikely ; no other traces of 
gnosticism are to be found in the religious history 
of the Occident, which certainly would have been 
the case had the heresy been sufficiently powerful to 
have obtained mastery over an ecclesiastical society. 

The Sangreal 625 

I think the root of the false doctrine or practices of 
the Templars must be looked for in the West. 

The Templars were charged with having an idol 
which the Chronicles of S. Denys (which terminate 
1461) describe as "an old skin embalmed and 
polished, in which the Templar places his very 
vile faith and trust, and in which he confidently 
believes : and it has in the sockets eyes of car- 
buncle shining with the brightness of the sky." 
Abraham Bzov, in his continuation of the " Church 
History " of Baronius, quotes a charge brought by 
the Italian bishops against the Templars, to this 
effect : " They have a certain head, the face pale 
like that of a man, with black curled hair, and 
round the neck a gilded ornament, which indeed 
belonged to no saint, and this they adored, making 
prayers before it." And one of the questions asked 
by the Pope of the witnesses was, "whether they 
had not a skull or some sort of image, to which 
they rendered divine homage V So also the Chro- 
nicle of Meaux states, that on the first day of the 
General Council of the Templars, a head with a 
white beard, which had belonged to a former Grand 
Master of the Order, was set at midnight before 
the altar in a chapel, covered with silken robes and 
precious stuffs. Mass was sung before daylight, 

s s 

026 The Sangreal 

and the head was then adored by the Master ai 
the other knights. 

It seems to me probable that this head, if thej 
were truth in the charge, was revered because 
was part of an ancient druidic rite to produce 
head upon a vessel, though for what purposes 
do not know. Friar Bacon constructed a hej 
which gave oracles. Possibly some such propei 
was attributed to the Templar, and previously 
the druidic head. Livy tells us that a bloody 
head of an enemy was a national Keltic symbol 
(xxiii. 24), and that the Boii brought the head into 
their temples, where they cleansed it and adorned it 
with gold, and then used it on festivals for a sacred 
vessel, out of which to make drink-offerings. 

To enter with any thing like completeness into 
the most interesting and intricate subject of 
druidic mythology and ceremonial would occupy 
too much space. This paper will necessarily be 
imperfect ; the religion of our British ancestors has 
yet to be written. Those who have hitherto 
approached the subject have so done with pre- 
conceived theories which have caused them to read 
wrong the sacred myths and rites they were 
interpreting. Much is to be learned from the 
Arthurian Romances, much from bardic remains. 

The Sangreal 627 

and much from Breton, Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish 

That all thus recovered will be in a corrupted 
form I am well aware, but a practised eye will be 
able to restore what is disintegrated, and will know 
to detect antiquity, though disguised under the 
newest robe. 

A careful study of these sources, conducted by 
the light of comparative mythology, will, I am 
satisfied, lead to the discovery that, under the 
name of Methodism, we have the old druidic 
religion still alive, energetic, and possibly more 
vigorous than it was when it exercised a spiritual 
supremacy over the whole of Britain. With the 
loss of the British tongue, much of the old ter- 
minology has died out, and a series of adaptations 
to Christianity has taken place, without radically 
affecting the system \ 

^ Exception has been taken to this remark by some of the 
reviews ; but the writer beheves unjustly. Those who have 
made the fragments of Bardic rehgious poems, and the 
scheme of Druidic rites their study, cannot fail with astonish- 
ment to note the remarkable coincidence which exists between 
modern Wesleyanism and the religion of our British fore- 

S S 2 

A FEW years before the Persian invasion in 
538, there lived, in the town of Adana in 
Cilicia, a priest named Theophilus, treasurer and 
archdeacon. He lived in strict observance of all his 
religious duties, was famous for his liberality to the 
poor, his sympathy with the afflicted, his eloquence 
in the pulpit, his private devotion, and severe asce- 
ticism. On the decease of the bishop, by popular 
acclamation he was summoned to the episcopal 
oversight of the diocese, but his deep humility 
urged him to refuse the office, even when it w^as 
pressed upon him by the metropolitan. Seldom 
has a nolo episcopari been carried out to such an 
emphatic refusal as was given by Theophilus. A 
stranger was raised to the vacant seat, and the trea- 
surer resumed the course of life he had pursued for 
so many years with credit to himself and advan- 

Theophilus 629 

tage to others, content in his own mind at having 
refused the office, which might have aroused his 
pride, and which certainly would have diminished 
his opportunities of self-sacrifice. Virtue invariably 
arouses the spirit of detraction, and Theophilus, by 
his refusal of the bishopric, was thrust into public 
notice, and attracted public attention. The conse- 
quence was that the evil-minded and envious origi- 
nated slanders, which, circulating widely, produced 
a revulsion of feeling towards Theophilus and, from 
being generally reported, were accepted as substan- 
tially true. These stories reaching the ears of the 
new bishop, he sent for the archdeacon, and with- 
out properly investigating the charges, concluding 
he was guilty, deprived him of his offices. 

One would have supposed that the humility which 
had required the holy man to refuse a mitre, would 
have rendered him callous to the voice of slander, 
and have sustained him under deprivation. But the 
trial was too great for his virtue. He brooded over 
the accusations raised against him, and the wrongs 
inflicted upon him, till the whole object of his 
labour was the clearing of his character. He 
sought every available means of unmasking the 
calumnies of his maligners, and exposing the falsity 
of the charges raised against him. But he found 

630 Theophilus 

himself unable to effect his object: one man 
powerless against a multitude, and slander is 
hydra which, when maimed in one head, product 
others in the place of that struck off. Bafflec 
despairing, and without a friend to sustain hij 
cause, the poor clerk sought redress in a mann( 
which a month ago would have filled him witl 
horror. He visited a necromancer, who led him at 
midnight to a place where four cross-roads met, and 
there conjured up Satan, who promised reinstate- 
ment in all his offices to the unfortunate Theophilus, 
and, what he valued more, a complete clearing of 
his character. The priest, to obtain these boons, 
signed away his soul with a pen dipped in his own 
blood, and abjured for ever Jesus Christ and his 
spotless mother. 

On the morrow, the bishop discovering his error, 
how we know not, sent for Theophilus, and ac- 
knowledged publicly that he had been misled by 
false reports, the utter valuelessness of which he 
was ready frankly to acknowledge ; and he asked 
pardon of the priest, for having unjustly deprived 
him of his office. The populace enthusiastically 
reversed their late opinion of the treasurer, and 
greeted him as a saint and confessor. For some 
days all went well, and in the excitement of a re- 

Theophihis 631 

turn to his former occupations the compact he had 
made was forgotten. But after a while, as reason 
and religion resumed their sway, the conscience of 
Theophilus gave him no rest. He paced his room 
at nights in an agony of terror, his face lost its 
colour, his brow was seamed with wrinkles, an un- 
utterable horror gleamed from his deep-set eyes. 
Hour by hour he prayed, but found no relief At 
length he resolved on a solemn fast of forty days. 
This he accomplished, praying nightly in the church 
of the Panhagia till the grey of morning stole in at 
the little windows of the dome and obscured the 
lamps. On the fortieth night, the Blessed Virgin 
appeared to him, and sadly rebuked him for his sin. 
He implored her pardon and all-prevailing inter- 
cession, and this she promised him. The following 
night she re-appeared and assured him that Christ 
had, at her prayer, forgiven him. With a cry of 
joy he awoke ; and on his breast lay the deed 
which had made over his soul to Satan, obtained 
from the evil one by the mercy of the sacred 
Mother of God. 

The next day was Sunday. He rose, spent some 
time in acts of thanksgiving, and then went to 
church where the divine liturgy was being cele- 
brated. After the reading of the gospel, he flung 

63a Theophilus 

himself at the bishop's feet, and requested permi| 
sion to make his confession in public. Then 
related the circumstances of his fall, and show( 
the compact signed with his blood to the assemble 
multitude. Having finished his confession, 
prostrated himself before the bishop and asked 
for absolution. The deed was torn and burned 
before the people, he was reconciled and received 
the blessed sacrament, after which he returned to 
his house in a fever, and died at the expiration 
of three days. The Church honours him as a 
penitent, on the 4th February. 

The original account of this famous compact with 
the devil is in the Greek of Eutychianus, disciple of 
Theophilus, who declares that he relates what he 
had seen with his own eyes, and heard from the 
mouth of Theophilus himself From the Greek of 
Eutychianus, two early Latin versions are extant, 
one by Paulus Diaconus, the other by Gentianus 
Hervetus. The former of these is published in 
the great work of the Bollandists, who fix the date 
of the event in 538. The version of Gentianus 
Hervetus purports to be a translation from Symeon 
Metaphrastes, who flourished in the tenth century, 
and who embodied the narrative of Eutychianus 
in his great collection of the Lives of the Saints. 

Theophilus 633 

In the tenth century, Hrosvitha, the illustrious 
nun of Gandershelm in Saxony, composed a Latin 
poem on the story of Theophilus. In the eleventh 
century the legend was versified by Marbodus, 
Bishop of Rennes. There is a poem on the subject 
by Gaultier de Coincy. Other rhymed versions 
have been published by M. Achille Jubinal, and M. 
Paulin Paris. One of the best of the ancient poems 
is that of Rutebeuf, a trouvere of the thirteenth 
century. There are several older miracle plays on 
mysteries of Theophilus : one in French, published 
by M. Francisque Michel ^ ; another in low German, 
published by M. Dasent^ The latter gentleman 
has collected a great number of pieces on Theophi- 
lus in various European languages, and quotes re- 
ferences to the legend in early French, Anglo-Saxon, 
Anglo-Norman, and German writers. 

Archbishop ^Ifric (d. 1006) alludes to the story 
in his " Homilies ;" S. Bernard also, in his " Depre- 
catio ad gloriosam Virginem Mariam ;" Vincent of 
Beauvais, in his wonderful " Speculum Historiale ;" 
S. Bonaventura, as a passionate devotee to the 
Virgin, could not omit it from his " Speculum 

^ Le Theatre Fran^ais au moyen age. Paris, p. 137. 
2 Theophilus, in Icelandic, Low German, &c. London, 
P- 23. 

634 Theophilus 

Beatae Mariae ;" Jacques de Voragine inserts it in his 
" Golden Legend," and Albertus Magnus includes 
it in his " Biblia B. Marias Virginis." It is again 
mentioned by the great German poet of the twelfth 
century, Hartmann von der Aue, and by Konrad 
von Wiirzburg, in the thirteenth century. A Flemish 
Theophilus was published by M. Philipp Blom- 
maert, from an old MS. of the fourteenth century, 
in 1836. To the same century belongs one version 
of the Theophilus legend in Icelandic, published 
by M. Dasent ; the other is younger by a century. 
An old Swedish Theophilus of 1350 exists in the 
royal library at Stockholm. 

In the cathedral of Notre-Dame, at Paris, are 
two sculptured representations of the fable ; one is 
on the north porch. In the cathedral of Laon it 
is painted on a window in the choir, in eighteen 
medallions. It is also to be seen in the church of 
S. Peter, at Troyes, and in that of S. Julien at 
Mans, in both instances on stained glass. 

Further information as to the legend, with the 
texts, can be found in — "Theophilus, in Icelandic, 
Low German, and other tongues, from MSS. in the 
Royal Library, Stockholm, by G. Webbe Dasent, 
M.A. Stockholm, 1845;" in "E. F. Somiper, De 
Theophili cum Diabole fcedere. Halle, 1844;" and 


Theophilns 635 

in "Miracle de Theophile, mis en vers au com- 
mencement du Xlllme siecle, par Gauthier de 
Coincy, publie par M. D. Maillet. Rennes, 1838." 

I do not think it improbable that this famous 
story may rest on a foundation of truth ; indeed 
it bears on the face of it tokens of authenticity. 
Theophilus is driven from his position by slanders : 
this preys on his mind. By some means he is 
reinstated. The revulsion of feeling upsets his 
reason, he undertakes a prodigious fast, goes crazy, 
tells a long rambling story about a compact with 
the devil, and dies three days after in brain-fever. 
His narrative is the only extraordinary item in the 
tale. If we remember that this was told after a 
forty-days* fast, and immediately before a mortal 
fever, the only thing to be wondered at in the 
legend is that any sane persons believed his ravings 
to have in them a foundation of truth. 


IN the Bragda Magus Saga, an Icelandic version of the Ro- 
mance of Maugis, but with considerable alterations in the 
story, is the following very curious passage, which seems to 
indicate a belief in a life indefinitely prolonged, not attached 
to the Jew, Cartaphilus. I quote from the edition " Bragda 
Magus Saga, med tilheyrandi Fattum, skrif. af Gunnlaugi 
Thordarsyni. Kaupmannahofn, 1858. Cap. 35 — 40." 

" Magus went before the king (Charlemagne), and greeted 
him courteously. The king received him well, and asked 
him his name. He said he was called 'VidforulL' The 
king said, * You are a vigorous man, though you seem very 

" VidforuU replied, ' Sire, you say right that I am very old, 
but I have been much older, and it may fall out that I be- 
come younger.' 

"'How can that possibly be,' asked the king, 'that you 
could have been older than you are, and will be younger ?' 

" Vidfomll said, ' That I will make clear to you. Twice 
have I cast my old skin, and become each time younger than 

" When he said this all the guard of the king sprang up, 
laughing, and said he should not venture to talk such non- 

6^S Appendix A 

sense before the king. Then the king took up the word, 
and said, 

" * Do you mean to say that you have twice cast your skin?' 
" ' It is quite true, sire ! ' answered Vidforull 
" The king asked, * Do you suppose that you will cast it 
again V 

" ' I am sure,' answered Vidforull, ' that in this very month 
I shall have to slough it off, and that not many days hence.' 
"'How old are you wont to be,' asked the king, 'before 
you cast it .'" 

" Vidforull replied, ' The time is not always the same. The 
first time I was aged 330, and then when I had undergone 
the process I was only about thirty, and I regained all the 

vigour of youth Now, sire, if you wish to know my 

powers, and see me cast my skin, then show me a seat, and I 
will remain in your court a few days, till the time comes. . . . 

"36 The second time I cast my skin, I was aged 

215 ; and when I found the time arrive for my change I sought 
Rome, where then reigned Hermanric' The king asked 
how the operation had taken place. Vidforull answered, 
* The first time it was rather strange ; I was then much more 
vigorous, though I had lived longer, for then men's ages were 
longer than they are now, and though I was over 300 years 
old, I was sturdy and could hunt ; and one day as I was at 
the chase I felt thirst, and I lay down by the water with the 
intention of drinking ; then there flew over me a dragon, 
which grabbed me up, and carried me off to a lofty crag, 
where was a cave. Then I . . . . escaped after a struggle, 
and fled to a beautiful plain, and there, exhausted with age, 
there came over me a lassitude, and then there peeled off me 
my first skin, as I was in a fainting fit, A little while after I 
revived, and I was as hale and hearty as a youth of thirty. . . 
37. Now I will tell you how I cast my skin the second time. 
I had been a little while in Rome, and I learned by a dream 
that I was to undergo the change. I was then some two ells 

Appendix A 639 

taller than before, and I was exceedingly able-bodied and 
strong, though very old.' (The king then asks him about the 
heroes of olden time, and Vidforull describes to him their 
personal appearance, the colour of their hair, eyes, and their 
stature.) ' And one day I was wrestling in the water with the 
knights of King Gunnar, and I was reluctant to do it, because 
I doubted my powers. However, to please the king I went 
in ; and when I was fresh I held most of the knights under 
water, but I soon tired, and then came my exhaustion over 
me, and they then held me under, and I could not rise, so I 
sank to the bottom, and lay there all day. And I woke up 
as I was washed ashore ; and it was like as when a man 
strips off his clothes, for I was younger then again, as though 
I was thirty.' 

" 40. It was one festival, in the morning, that the king and 
his court went to church, and they saw that a great log had 
come under the hall-wall, and by it stood Vidforull, and he 
came to the king and greeted him, and he was very cheerful. 
The king said, 'What is the cause of your merriment?' 

" Vidforull replied, ' Sire, you must not be surprised when 
I tell you that to-day is the time when I shall have to cast 
my skin, and I should like you and all the court to witness 
the process.' The guard were right pleased, and laughed for 
joy. The king smiled and said, ' We must go to church 
first and hear mass, and after that we shall be ready.' Vid- 
forull said it was well that they should do so. And when all 
the office was over, the guard scampered out of the church, 
for all were eager to see what would happen. The king went 
forth as usual, and back to his hall. And when he got there 
Vidforull went to him, and fell on his knee, and said, ' Now I 
wish, sire, that you and all your suite should take your places, 
and watch me accomplish my desire, for I have long desired 
to quit this age and become young again.' . . . Then he 
bared his head, and stroked his arms, and all his body and 
belly and his legs, then he rolled together the skin he was 

640 Appendix A 

in, and lay down before the post, and muttered to himself, " 
* Away with age, that I may have my desire ! ' Then all the ' 
court laughed as loud as they well could, but he lay a little 
while motionless. And, when they were least aware, he 
dragged at the post, and worked himself headforemost into 
the post, and it closed upon him as his feet entered. The ] 
king ran to it with all his men, but the beam was solid. 
Then they began to discuss what was to be done. 

" Earl Uppi said : — ' It was a Troll, and he has vanished into , 
the earth.' But next they heard a great noise in the beam. 1 
They thought it very strange that the post was at one time 
bigger than at another. And after this had gone on a while, 
they saw come out at the end of the beam a man's feet, then 
a man as far as to his middle. They saw the beam shrink 
and expand, and it was like a woman in her pangs ; at last 
the post contracted, and shot VidforuU completely out, and 
he lay a while as though dead ; but when the assistants were 
least expecting it, he sprang up, rolled up the skin from off 
his head, stepped up to the king, and saluted him. And they 
saw that he was no other than a beardless youth, and fair 


iWountttin of Venus 

{Extract from Vinunt of Beauvais : Speculum Historiaky I. xxvi.) 

'T*HE youth having returned for his ring to the statue, 
-*- " videt digitum statuae usque ad volam manus recur- 
vatum, et quantumvis conatus annulum reeuperare, nee 
digitum inflectare nee annulum valuit extrahere. Redit ad 
sodales, nee illis ea de re quiequam indieavit. Noete intem- 
pesta eum famulo ad statuam revertitur, et extensum ut 
initio digitum repperit, sed sine annulo ; jaetura dissimulata 
domum se eonfert ad novam nuptam. Cumque thorum 
genialem ingressus sponsas se jungere vellet, sensit impedire 
sese et quiddam nebulosum ae densum inter suum eonjugis- 
que corpus volutari ; sentiebat id tactu, videre tamen nequie- 
bat. Hoc obstaeulo ab amplexu prohibebatur, audiebat 
etiam vocem dieentem : 'mecum concumbe, quia hodie me 
desponsasti. Ego sum Venus, eui digito annulum inseruisti, 
nee reddam.' Territus ille tanto prodigio nihil referre ausus 
est vel potuit ; insomnem duxit noctem illam, multum seeum 

''Sie factum est per multum tempus ut quacunque hora 
cum sponsa concumbere vellet, illud idem sentiret et audiret. 
Erat sane alias valens et domi aptus et militiae. Tanden. 

T t 

642 Appendix B 

uxoris querelis commonitus, rem parentibus detulit. IIH 
habito concilio Palumbo cuidam, presbytero suburbano, rem 
pandunt. Is autem erat necromanticus et in maleficiis 
potens. Illectus ergo promissis multis compositam epi- 
stolam dedit juveni dicens : ' Vade ilia hora noctis ad compi- 
tum, ubi quatuor vise conveniunt, et stans tacite considera. 
Transient ibi figuras hominum utriusque sexus, omnisq 
aetatis et conditionis, equites et pedites, quidam laeti 
quidam tristes ; quicquid audieris non loquaris. Seque 
illam turbam quidam statura procerior, forma corpulent! 
curru sedens ; huic tacitus epistolam trades legendam, statim' 
que fiet quod postulas.' Ille autem juvenis totum implevit 
prout edoctus erat. Viditque inter caeteros ibi mulierem 
habitu meretricio mulam inequitantem, crine soluto 
humeros jactato, vitta aurea superius constricto, aure 
virgam gerentem in manibus, qua mulum regebat ; p: 
tenuitate vestium pene nuda apparebat, gestus exsequens 
impudicos. Ultimus dominus turbae terribiles in juvenem 
oculos exacuens, ab axe superbo smaragdis et unionibus 
composito causas viae ab eo exquirebat. Nihil ille contra, 
sed protenta manu epistolam ei porrigii ; daemon notum 
sigillum non audens contemnere legit scriptum, moxque 
brachiis in coelum elevatis ; ' Deus/ inquit, ' omnipotens, 
quamdiu patieris nequitias Palumbi presbyteri ?' Nee mora, 
satellites suos a latere mittit qui annulum extorquerent a 
Venere. Ilia multum tergiversata vix tandem reddidit. Ita 
juvenis voti compos sine obstaculo potitus est diu suspiratis 
amoribus. Palumbus autem, ubi daemonis clamorem ad 
Deum audivit de se, intellexit sibi praesignari finem dierum. 
Quocirca omnibus in membris ultro truncatis miserabili 
poena defunctus est.'* 





^rc«®^r(st(an Crosses 

I HAVE said that the phallic origin attributed to the cross 
is destitute of evidence. In a work like this, which will 
be in the hands of general readers, it is impossible to enter 
into the subject. 

I believe I have conscientiously examined the question. If 
I saw that there was sufficient evidence to substantiate the 
theory, I would adopt it without hesitation. But I think a 
better claim may be made for the lightning, and a better 
still for the ancient instrument of two sticks used for pro- 
ducing fire by friction. 

An article on Sun worship in the " English Leader," copied 
into "Public Opinion" (Sept. 14, 1867), assumes the identity 
of the cross with the phallus. The article is full of assertions, 
rather bold and reckless than well supported by evidence. 

It asserts on the authority of the Abbe Pluche that the 
crux ansata was the symbol of the annual inundation of the 
Nile. The speculations of the learned on the signification 
of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, previous to the discoveries of 
ChampoUion, are, however, devoid of weight. "The crux 
ansata," it adds, " that is, the cross and circle, was the sign 
of Venus or sensual love, — the goddess from whose name our 
word venery is derived, — and it is still the astronomical 
T t 2 

644 Appendix C 


symbol of the planet which bears her name." As we 
already seen, the crux ansata was not exclusively the symbol 
of Astarte ; it was a sign of divinity and was placed near 
every god to indicate him as being Divine. It appears besi 
Baal as well as Astarte. 

If used more frequently with her than with other deiti 
it was because it symbolized her power over moisture, & 
being the Moon. The cross did not belong to her as 
goddess of sensuality, but as presiding over the month and 
its rains ; to Baal it belonged as a year-god guiding th 

The same article refers to the Indian cross as though 
were a phallus ; whereas the symbols are entirely 
radically distinct, as may be seen by reference to the plates 
of Miiller's " Glauben, Wissen, und Kunst der Hindus." 



Shipping t^t ©ea^ 

nPHE following curious passage from Gervase of Tilbury 
-■- may not prove uninten 
transport of the dead by boats. 

-■- may not prove uninteresting when treating of the 

Otia Imperialia, Decisio iii. c. 90. 

Insigne mirum ac ex divina virtute miraculum audi, Prin- 
ceps Sacratissime. Caput regni Burgundionum, quod Are- 
latense dicitur, civitas est Arelas, antiquissimis dotata pri- 
vilegiis. Hanc ordinatus ab Apostolis Petro et Paulo, 
Trophimus, qui .... deliberavit coemeterium solemne ad 
meridianam urbis partem constituere, in quo omnium ortho- 
doxorum corpora sepulturas traderentur, ut, sicut ab Arela- 
tensi ecclesia tota Gallia fidei sumsit exordium, ita et mortuv 
in Christo undecunque advecti sepulturae communis haberent 
beneficium. Facta itaque consecratione solemni per manus 
sanctissimorum antistitum ad Orientalem portam, ubi nunc 
est ecclesia ab ipsis in honorem B. Virginis consecrata, illis 
Christus, pridem in carne familiariter agnitus, apparuit, opus 
eorum sua benedictione profundens, dato ccemeterio ac illis 
sepeliendis munere, ut quicunque inibi sepelirentur, nullas in 
cadaveribus suis paterentur diabolicas illusiones. Ex hujus- 
modi ergo Dominicae benedictionis munere, apud omnes 

6i6 Appendix 

majoris auctoritatis Galliarum principes ac clericos inolevit,' 
quod maxima patentum pars illuc sepulturam habent, et 
quidam in plaustris, alii in curribus, nonnulli in equis, plurimi 
per dependulum fluentis Rhodani ad ccemeterium Campi Elisii 
deferebantur. Est ergo omni admiratione dignissimum, 
quod nullus in thecis positus mortuus ultimos civitatis Arela- 
tensis terminos, quos Rochetam nominant, quantalibet vi 
ventorum aut tempestate compulsus praeterit, sed infra 
semper subsistens in aqua rotatur, donee applicet, aut ad 
ripam fluminis ductus coemeterio sacro inferatur. Mirandis 
magis miranda succedunt, quae oculis conspeximus sub 
innumera utriusque sexus hominum multitudine. Solent, 
ergo praemisimus, mortui in doliis bituminatis ac in thecis 
corpora mortuorum a longinquis regionibus fluminis Rhodani 
dimitti cum pecunia sigillata, quae ccemeterio tam sacn 
nomine eleemosynas, confertur. Uno aliquo die, nondum 
decennio delapso, dolium cum mortuo suo descendit inter 
illud angustum, quod ex alternis ripis castrum Tarasconense 
et castrum Belliquadri prospectant. Exilientes adolescentes 
Belliquadri dolium ad terram trahunt, et relicto mortui 
pecuniam reconditam rapiunt. Depulsum dolium inter im 
petuosi amnis fluctus subsistit, et nee vi fluminis praecipiti 
nee juvenum impulsibus potuit descendere, verum rotans ei 
in se revolvens, eosdem circinabat fluminis fluctus. 
Tandem, restituto censu, confestim mortuus sine omni im- 
pellentis adjutorio viam aggreditur, et infra modicam horam 
apud civitatem Arelatensem applicans, sepulturas honorifice 

;s V I 



JFatalitp of i^umibcrs 

THE laws governing numbers are so perplexing to the 
uncultivated mind, and the results arrived at by calcu- 
lation are so astonishing, that it cannot be matter of surprise 
if superstition has attached itself to numbers. 

But, even to those who are instructed in numeration, there 
is much that is mysterious and unaccountable, much that 
only an advanced mathematician can explain to his own 
satisfaction. The neophyte sees the numbers obedient to 
certain laws, but why they obey these laws he cannot under- 
stand ; and the fact of his not being able so to do, tends to 
give to numbers an atmosphere of mystery which impresses 
him with awe. 

For instance, the property of the number 9, discovered, I 
believe, by W. Green, who died in 1794, is inexplicable to 
any one but a mathematician. The property to which I 
allude is this, that when 9 is multiplied by 2, by 3, by 4, by 
5, by 6, &c., it will be found that the digits composing the 
product, v/hen added together, give 9. Thus : 

2 X 9 = 18, and 1 + 8 = 9 
3x9 = 27 „ 2 + 7 = 9 
4x9 = 36 „ 3 + 6 = 9 


Ippendix E 

5 X 9 = 45 and 4 + 5 = 9 
6x9 = 54 „ 5 + 4 = 9 

7 X 9 = 63 

8 X 9 = 72 

9 X 9 = 81 
10 X 9 = 90 

6 + 3 = 9 

7 + 2 = 9 

8 + 1=9 

9 + = 9 

It will be noticed that 9x11 makes 99, the sum of the 
digits of which is 18 and not 9, but the sum of the digits 
1x8 equals 9. 

9 X 12 = 108, and 1+0 + 8 = 9 
9 X 13 = 117 » 1 + 1+7 = 9 
9 X 14 = 126 „ 1 + 2 + 6 = 9 

And so on to any extent. 

M. de Maivan discovered another singular property of the 
same number. If the order of the digits expressing a num- 
ber be changed, and this number be subtracted from the 
former, the remainder will be 9 or a multiple of 9, and, being 
a multiple, the sum of its digits will be 9. 

For instance, take the number 21, reverse the digits, and 
you have 12; subtract 12 from 21, and the remainder is 9. 
Take 63, reverse the digits, and subtract 36 from 63 ; you 
have 27, a multiple of 9, and 2 + 7 = 9. Once more, the 
number 13 is the reverse of 31 ; the difference between these 
numbers is 18, or twice 9. 

Again, the same property found in two numbers thus 
changed, is discovered in the same numbers raised to any 

Take 21 and 12 again. The square of 21 is 441, and the 
square of 12 is 144 ; subtract 144 from 441, and the remainder 
is 297, a multiple of 9 ; besides, the digits expressing these 
powers added together give 9. The cube of 21 is 9261, and 
that of 12 is 1728 ; their difference is 7533, also a multiple 
of 9. 

Appendix E 649 

The number 37 has also somewhat remarkable properties ; 
when multiplied by 3 or a multiple of 3 up to 27, it gives in 
the product three digits exactly similar. From the knowledge 
of this the multiplication of 37 is greatly facilitated, the 
method to be adopted being to multiply merely the first 
cipher of the multiplicand, by the first of the multiplier ; it is 
then unnecessary to proceed with the multiplication, it being 
sufficient to write twice to the right hand the cipher obtained, 
so that the same digit will stand in the unit, tens, and hun- 
dreds places. 

For instance, take the results of the following table : — 

37 multiplied by 3 gives iii, and 3 times 1=3 








2= 6 







3= 9 







4 = 12 







5 = 15 







6= 18 







7 = 21 







8 = 24 







9 = 27 

The singular property of numbers the most different, when 
added, to produce the same sum, originated the use of magical 
squares for talismans. Although the reason may be ac- 
counted for mathematically, yet numerous authors have 
written concerning them, as though there were something 
"uncanny" about them. But the most remarkable and ex- 
haustive treatise on the subject is that by a mathematician of 
Dijon, which is entitled, " Traite complet des Carres 
magiques, pairs et impairs, simple et composes, a Bordures, 
Compartiments, Croix, Chassis, Equerres, Bandes detachees, 
&c. ; suivi d'un Traite des Cubes magiques et d'un Essai sur 
les Cercles magiques ; par M. VioUe, Geometre, Chevalier 
de S. Louis, avec Atlas de 54 grandes Feuilles, comprenant 

650 Appendix E 

400 figures." Paris, 1837. 2 vols. 8vo., the first of 593 
pages, the second of 616. Price 36 fr. 

I give three examples of magical squares :— 

9 5 I 
4 3 8 

These nine ciphers are disposed in three horizontal lines ; 
add the three ciphers of each line, and the sum is 15 ; add 
the three ciphers in each column, the sum is 15 ; add the 
three ciphers forming diagonals, and the sum is 15. 

1234 I 7 13 19 25 




The sum is 10. 

But the connexion of certain numbers with the dogmas of 
religion was sufficient, besides their marvellous properties, to 
make superstition attach itself to them. Because there were 
thirteen at the table when the Last Supper was celebrated, 
and one of the number betrayed his Master, and then hung 
himself, it is looked upon through Christendom as unlucky to 
sit down thirteen at table, the consequence being that one of 
the number will die before the year is out. " When I see," 
said Vouvenargues, " men of genius not daring to sit down 
thirteen at table, there is no error ancient or modem which 
astonishes me." 

Nine, having been consecrated by Buddhism, is regarded 
with great veneration by the Moguls and Chinese : the latter 
bow nine times on entering the presence of their Emperor. 

Three is sacred among Brahminical and Christian peoples, 
because of the Trinity of the Godhead, 






















sum is 


Appendix E 651 

Pythagoras taught that each number had its own peculiar 
character, virtue, and properties. 

" The unit, or the monad," he says, " is the principle and 
the end of all ; it is this sublime knot which binds together 
the chain of causes ; it is the symbol of identity, of equality, 
of existence, of conservation, and of general harmony. 
Having no parts, the monad represents Divinity; it an- 
nounces also order, peace, and tranquillity, which are 
founded on unity of sentiments ; consequently One is a good 

" The number Two, or the dyad, the origin of contrasts, is 
the symbol of diversity, or inequality, of division and of 
separation. Two is accordingly an evil principle, a num- 
ber of bad augury, characterizing disorder, confusion, and 

" Three, or the triad, is the first of unequals ; it is the 
number containing the most sublime mysteries, for every 
thing is composed of three substances; it represents God, 
the soul of the world, the spirit of man." This number, 
which plays so great a part in the traditions of Asia, and in 
the Platonic philosophy, is the image of the attributes of God. 

" Four, or the tetrad, as the first mathematical power, is 
also one of the chief elements ; it represents the generating 
virtue, whence come all combinations ; it is the most perfect 
of numbers ; it is the root of all things. It is holy by nature, 
since it constitutes the Divine essence, by recalling His 
unity, His power, His goodness, and His wisdom, the four 
perfections which especially characterize God. Consequently, 
Pythagoricians swear by the quaternary number, which 
gives the human soul its eternal nature, 

" The number Five, or the pentad, has a peculiar force in 
sacred expiations ; it is every thing ; it stops the power of 
poisons, and is redoubted by evil spirits. 

" The number Six, or the hexad, is a fortunate number, 
and it derives its merit from the first sculptors having 

6^2 Appendix F 

divided the face into six portions ; but, according to the 
Chaldeans, the reason is, because God created the world in 
six days. 

" Seven, or the heptad, is a number very powerful for 
good or for evil. It belongs especially to sacred things. 

" The number Eight, or the octad, is the first cube, that 
is to say, squared in all senses, as a die, proceeding from 
its base two, an even number ; so is man four-square, or 
perfect . 

" The number Nine, or the ennead, being the multiple 
three, should be regarded as sacred. 

" Finally, TEN, or the decad, is the measure of all, sin 
it contains all the numeric relations and harmonies. As the 
reunion of the four first numbers, it plays an eminent part, 
since all the branches of science, all nomenclatures, emanat 
from, and retire into it.'' 

•It is hardly necessary for me here to do more than mentioi 
the peculiar character given to different numbers by Chris- 
tianity. One is the numeral indicating the Unity of the God 
head ; Two points to the hypostatic union ; Three to th 
Blessed Trinity ; Four to the Evangelists ; Five to th 
Sacred Wounds ; Six is the number of sin ; Seven that 
the gifts of the Spirit ; Eight that of the Beatitudes ; Ten 
the number of the Commandments : Eleven speaks of th 
Apostles after the loss of Judas ; Twelve, of the complet 
apostolic college. 

I shall now point out certain numbers which have been 
regarded with superstition, and certain events connected with 
numbers which are of curious interest 

The number 14 has often been observed as having singu- 
larly influenced the life of Henry IV. and other French 
princes. Let us take the history of Henry. 

On the 14th May, 1029, the first king of France named 
Henry was consecrated, and on the 14th May, 1610, the last 
Henry was assassinated. 



Appendix E 6^'^ 

Fourteen letters enter into the composition of the name of 
Henri de Bourbon, who was the 14th king bearing the titles 
of France and Navarre. 

The 14th December, 1553, that is, 14 centuries, 14 decades, 
and 14 years after the birth of Christ, Henry IV. was bom ; 
the ciphers of the date 1553, when added together, giving the 
number 14. 

The 14th May, 1554, Henry II. ordered the enlargement 
of the Rue de la Ferronnerie. The circumstance of this 
order not having been carried out, occasioned the murder of 
Henry IV. in that street, four times 14 years after. 

The 14th May, 1552, was the date of the birth of Mar- 
guerite de Valois, first wife of Henry IV. 

On the 14th May, 1588, the Parisians revolted against 
Henry III., at the instigation of the Duke of Guise. 

On the 14th March, 1590, Henry IV. gained the battle of 

On the 14th May, 1590, Henry was repulsed from the 
r auxbourgs of Paris. 

On the 14th November, 1590, the Sixteen took oath to die 
rather than serve Henry. 

On the 14th November, 1592, the Parliament registered 
the Papal Bull giving power to the legate to nominate a king 
to the exclusion of Henry. 

On the 14th December, 1599, the Duke of Savoy was 
reconciled to Henry IV. 

On the 14th September, 1606, the Dauphin, afterwards 
Louis XIII., was baptized. 

On the 14th May, 1610, the king was stopped in the Rue 
de la Ferronnerie, by his carriage becoming locked with a 
cart, on account of the narrowness of the street. Ravaillac 
took advantage of the occasion for stabbing him. 

Henry IV. lived four times 14 years, 14 weeks, and four 
times 14 days ; that is to say, 56 years and 5 months. 

Oji the 14th May, 1643, died Louis XIII., son of Henry 

654 Appendix E 

IV. ; not only on the same day of the same month as his 
father, but the date, 1643, when its ciphers are added 
together, gives the number 14, just as the ciphers of the date 
of the birth of his father gave 14. 

Louis XIV. mounted the throne in 1643 : 

I -f 6 + 4 + 3 = 14. 

He died in the year 1715: 1+7 + 1 + 5 = I4- 

He hved 77 years, and 7 + 7 = 14. 

Louis XV. mounted the throne in the same year ; he died 
in 1774, which also bears the stamp of 14, the extremes being 
14, and the sum of the means 7 + 7 making 14, 

Louis XVL had reigned 14 years when he convoked th( 
States General, which was to bring about the Revolution, 

The number of years between the assassination of Henry 
IV. and the dethronement of Louis XVI. is divisible by 14, 

Louis XVII. died in 1794 ; the extreme digits of the dat( 
are 14, and the first two give his number. 

The restoration of the Bourbons took place in 18 14, also' 
marked by the extremes being 14 ; also by the sum of the 
ciphers making 14. 

The following are other curious calculations made respect 
ing certain French kings. 

Add the ciphers composing the year of the birth or of t 
death of some of the kings of the third race, and the result 
each sum is the titular number of each prince. Thus : — 

Louis IX. was born in 1215 ; add the four ciphers of this 
date, and you have IX. 

Charles VII. was born in 1402 ; the sum of i + 4 + 
gives VII. 

Louis XII. was born in 1461 ; and 1 + 4+6 + 1 = XI 

Henry IV. died in 1610 ; and i + 6 + i = twice IV. 

Louis XIV. was crowned in 1643 5 ^^^ these four ciphers 
give XIV. The same king died in 1715; and this date 
gives also XIV. He was aged 77 years, and again 7 + 
= 14. 


Appendix E S5!) 

Louis XVIII. was born in 1755; add the digits, and you 
have XVIII. 

What is remarkable is, that this number 18 is double the 
number of the king to whom the law first applies, and is triple 
the number of the kings to whom it has applied. 

Here is another curious calculation : — 
Robespierre fell in 1794 ; 
Napoleon in 18 15, and Charles X. in 1830. 

Now the remarkable fact in connexion with these dates is, 
that the sum of the digits composing them, added to the 
dates, gives the date of the fall of the successor. Robespierre 
fell in 1794; I + 7 + 9 + 4 = 21, 1794 + 21 = 1815, the 
date of the fall of Napoleon ; 1+8 + 1-1-5=15, and 
1 815 + 15 = 1830, the date of the fall of Charles X. 

There is a singular rule which has been supposed to deter- 
mine the length of the reigning Pope's life, in the earlier half 
of a century. Add his number to that of his predecessor, to 
that add ten, and the result gives the year of his death. 

Pius VII. succeeded Pius VI.; 6 + 7 = 13 ; add 10, and 
the sum is 23. Pius Vll. died in 1823. 

Leo XII. succeeded Pius VII.; 12 + 7 + 10 = 29 ; and 
Leo XII. died in 1829. 

Pius VIII. succeeded Leo XII.; 8 + 12 + 10 = 30 ; and 
Pius VIII. died in 1830. 

However, this calculation does not always apply. 

Gregory XVI. ought to have died in 1834, but he did not 
actually vacate his see till 1 846. 

It is also well known that an ancient tradition forbids the 
hope of any of S. Peters successors, pervefiire ad annos 
Petri; i. e. to reign 25 years. 

And it is a remarkable fact that all have vacated the 
throne before that time is complete ; Pius IX. must not reign 
beyond 187 1. 

The Popes who have sat longest are 


Appendix E 




Pius VI., who reigned 




Hadrian I. ,, 




Pius VII. 




Alexander III. ,y 




S. Silvester I. „ 



There is one numerical curiosity of a very remarkabU 
character, which I must not omit. 

The ancient Chamber of Deputies, such as it existed ii 
1830, was composed of 402 members, and was divided into' 
two parties. The one, numbering 221 members, declared 
itself strongly for the revolution of July ; the other party, 
numbering 181, did not favour a change. The result was the 
constitutional monarchy, which re-established order after the 
three memorable days of July. The parties were known by 
the following nicknames. The larger was commonly called 
La queue de Robespierre^ and the smaller, Les honnetes gens. 
Now the remarkable fact is, that if we give to the letters of 
the alphabet their numerical values as they stand in their 
order, as i for A, 2 for B, 3 for C, and so on to Z, which is 
valued at 25, and then write vertically on the left hand the 
words. La queue de Robespierre, with the number equivalent 
to each letter opposite to it, and on the right hand, in like 
manner, Les honnetes gens, if each column of numbers be 
summed up, the result is the number of members wh< 
formed each party. 

I 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 II 12 13 14 15 i( 

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 

Appendix E 

r— 12 

r— 12 

> — I 

w— 5 


w — 19 

c — 21 

K— 8 

w— 5 


<^— 21 

:^— 14 

w— 5 


0— 4 

w— 5 

^— 5 

H— 20 

w- 5 


w —19 


0— 7 

ta — 2 

tt— 5 

rt— 5 

iz:— 14 

w — 19 

CO — 19 

K0 j5 



w— 5 

?s— 18 

»— 18 

w— 5 

Majority .... 



Minority .... 





Some coincidences of dates are very remarkable. 

On the 25th August, 1569, the Calvinists massacred the 
Catholic nobles and priests of B^arn and Navarre. 

On the same day of the same month, in 1572, the Cal- 
vinists were massacred in Paris and elsewhere. 

On the 25th October, 1615, Louis XIII. married Anne of 
Austria, infanta of Spain; whereupon we may remark the 
following coincidences :— 

U u 

6^S Appendix E 

The name Loys^ de Bourbon contains 13 letters, so does 
the name Anne d'Autriche. 

Louis was 13 years old when this marriage was decided 
on. Anne was the same age. 

He was the thirteenth king of France bearing the name of 
Louis, and she was the thirteenth infanta of the name of 
Anne of Austria. 

On the 23rd of April, 1616, died Shakspeare : on the same 
day of the same month, in the same year, died the great poet 

On the 29th May, 1630, King Charles IL was born. 

On the 29th May, 1660, he was restored. 

On the 29th May, 1672, the fleet was beaten by the Dutch. 

On the 29th May, 1679, the rebellion of the Covenanters 
broke out in Scotland. 

The Emperor Charles V. was bom on February 24th, 
1500 ; on that day he won the battle of Pavia, in 1525, and 
on the same day was crowned in 1530. 

On the 29th January, 1697, M. de Broquemar, president of 
the Parliament of Paris, died suddenly in that city ; next day 
his brother, an officer, died suddenly at Bergue, where he 
was governor. The lives of these brothers present remark- 
able coincidences. One day the officer, being engaged in 
battle, was wounded in his leg by a sword-blow. On the 
same day, at the same moment, the president was afflicted 
with acute pain, which attacked him suddenly in the same 
leg as that of his brother which had been injured. 

John Aubrey mentions the case of a friend of his who w? 
born on the 15th November ; his eldest son was born on the 
15th November ; and his second son's first son on the sam^ 
day of the same month. 

At the hour of prime, April 6th, 1327, Petrarch first sav 

* Up to Louis XI I L all the kings of this name spellet 
Louis as Loys. 

Appendix E 659 

his mistress Laura, in the Church of S. Clara in Avignon. 
In the same city, same month, same hour, 1348, she died. 

The deputation charged with offering the crown of Greece 
to Prince Otho, arrived in Munich on the 13th of October, 
1832 ; and it was on the 13th October, 1862, that King Otho 
left Athens, to return to it no more. 

On the 2 1 St April, 1770, Louis XVL was married at 
Vienna, by the sending of the ring. 

On the 2ist June, in the same year, took place the fatal 
festivities of his marriage. 

On the 2ist January, 1781, was the/e/<? at the Hotel de 
Ville, for the birth of the Dauphin. 

On the 2 1 St June, 1791, took place the flight to Varennes. 

On the 2 1 St January, 1793, he died on the scaffold. 

December 2nd is as remarkable a day in Bonapartist 
annals as September 3rd in Cromwellian. On that day in 
1804, Napoleon L was crowned. The same day in the next 
year he won his chief victory of Austerlitz. On December 
2nd, 1851, Napoleon IIL made himself master of France, on 
December 2nd, 1852, he was proclaimed Emperor. 

There is said to be a tradition of Norman-monkish origin, 
that the number 3 is stamped on the Royal line of England, 
so that there shall not be more than three princes in suc- 
cession without a revolution. 

William I., William IL, Henry L ; then followed the revo- 
lution of Stephen. 

Henry H., Richard L, John; invasion of Louis, Dauphin 
of France, who claimed the throne. 

Henry IIL, Edward I., Edward 1 1., who was dethroned 
and put to death. 

Edward IIL, Richard IL, who was dethroned. 

Henry IV., Henry V., Henry VI.; the crown passed to the 
house of York. 

Edward IV., Edward V., Richard IIL; the crown claimed 
and won by Henry Tudor. 

66o Appendix E 

Henry VII., Henry VIII., Edward VI. ; usurpation of Lady 
Jane Grey. 

Mary I., Elizabeth ; the crown passed to the House of 

James I., Charles I. ; Revolution. 

Charles II., James II.; invasion of William of Orange. 

William of Orange and Mary II., Anne; arrival of the 
House of Brunswick. 

George I., George II., George III., George IV., WilHam 
IV., Victoria. The law has proved faulty in the last case ; 
but certainly there was a crisis in the reign of George IV. 

The number 88 seems to have been fatal to the House of 
Stuart, and the date September 3, had influence on the 
fortunes of Oliver Cromwell. 

Robert II., the first Stuart king, died in 1388, James II. 
was killed at the siege of Roxburgh in 1488, Mary Stuart was 
beheaded in 1588 (new style), James II. dethroned in 1688, 
Charles Edward died in 1788, and with him the last hopes of 
the Jacobites. Oliver Cromwell was born September 3, 
1599, won the battle of Dunbar September 3, 1650, that of 
Worcester September 3, 1651, and died September 3, 1658. 

As I am on the subject of the English princes, I will add 
another singular coincidence, though it has nothing to do 
with the fatality of numbers. 

It is that Saturday has been a day of ill omen to the later 

William of Orange died Saturday i8th March, 1702. 

Anne died Saturday ist August, 1704. 

George I. died Saturday loth June, 1727. 

George II. died Saturday 25th October, 1760. 

George III. died Saturday 30th January, 1820. 

George IV. died Saturday 26th June, 1830. 




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Some account of the most Celebrated Preachers 
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GR Baring-Gould, Sabine 

90 Curious myths of the Middle 

B3 Ages New ed.